Anne Marie Tabardo looked up from carving Alice with a smile that was guaranteed to melt an icy heart, or cold art for that matter. A collection of ice carving chisels rested on the ground next to her. A seriously long one was poised in her hand. It was obvious that she was having fun with her sculpture. A tall tree of ice towered over her and the diminutive Alice, who was apparently ready to dive into the rabbit hole. Off to the right were what looked suspiciously like fly agaric: magic mushrooms. I suspect they are quite common in the land of hookah smoking caterpillars. I wondered if the judges would give Anne an A for authenticity, or even recognize the mushrooms.
Anne hails from the United Kingdom where these same hallucinogenic fungi were recently found on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. An official was quick to assure everyone that the mushrooms from the garden would not be used in the kitchen. The Queen would not be prancing around the palace.
Prior to becoming involved in ice art, Anne worked at Madame Tussaud’s and The British Museum creating replicas of famous people. She has a degree in fine arts from the National Art School in Sydney and at the City and Guilds of London Art School. Her father, Juan, who runs a florist shop in Sydney, Australia, flew in to Fairbanks to help with the sculpture.
Ice Alaska, the organization supporting the ice art competition in Fairbanks, includes brief bios on most of the carvers. Some, like Anne, are art school graduates. Others came by their profession by less direct routes. For example, Chris Foltz, one of the carvers of Soul Catcher, is executive chef at the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. Ice sculptures are often on display at fancy group dinners such as those found on cruise ship. In these cases, ice carving skills are a plus for chefs. Both of the artists for Spark come from culinary backgrounds. Tajana Rauker from Croatia studied culinary arts in Krk, Croatia. Her partner in carving Spark, Ted Wakar, is an executive chef at Ford Motor Company.
Ice carving artists are often involved with related art activities such as wood carving. Ben Firth, who along with his brother Barnabas, was responsible for carving Conflict, also carves antlers, sculpts in bronze, and works in pencil and watercolors. His art is sold out of the family’s art studio in Anchor Point, Alaska. Ivan Loktyukhin, is another multi-talented artist, who has won numerous prizes for his wood carving and metal sculptures as well as ice art. Ivan holds a degree in Architectural Design from the Russian Pacific National University. Along with Vadim Polin, Ivan was responsible for creating Yahoo!
Another artist who caught my attention was Lkhagvadorj Dorjsuren (AKA George) who was the first person from Mongolia to carve ice. He won his first contest in Finland where no one spoke his language. One of his dreams is to start a competition in Mongolia that would draw tourists. Sign me up! He and his partner Enkh-Erdene Ganbataar, (aka Eggi) created the rather humorously named sculpture AAAHH BaaMMM Beee Beeem. (Yeah, I don’t have a clue, either.) George, working with Altankhuu Khishigdalai, also helped create The Beginning of Time.
I have only been able to cover a few of the participating artists. If you are interested in learning more about these artists or others involved check out the Ice-Alaska website. NEXT BLOG: I will finish up my blogs on the world ice art competition.
30 thoughts on “The 2016 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska… Part II: The Artists”
The last one ‘The beginning of time’ is my favourite. I wonder how the ice gets it clarity? What is the day-time temperature? Usually, ice cut out of a lake looks white..
Sorry for this very late reply, Gerard. This comment was hiding deep down in the bowels of WordPress. Temperatures ranged from around five degrees Fahrenheit to up around 32 (freezing). I’ve been in Fairbanks at a minus 30! The small pond next to the carving site produces some of the clearest ice in the world. It is one of the major reasons that the world championships are held there. –Curt
Just simply amazing art.
Yes it is Andrew.
WOW!!! Double Wow!
Isn’t it spectacular, Cindy. A double wow… 🙂 –Curt
Another fascinating series. From Burning Man to Ice Art? Wow. Curt, you are now – officially – my favorite blogger! 🙂
What nice words. Thank you. I consider it a privilege. 🙂 –Curt
Some very talented people with wonderful imaginations.
Yes on both counts, AC. –Curt
Alaska – the perfect place for ice sculpture! The artist is pretty as a picture too – and talented!
The smile was a delight. I am really glad I captured it. And yes, lots of talent. Some of the best ice carvers in the world were there. –Curt
I have always loved the qualities of thick glass and these ice-sculpture combine with with the most amazing delicacy and translucency.
Have to agree, Hillary. I was amazed by the quality of the ice, both crystal clear and frosted. –Curt
Good stuff, Alison. I am ever so glad that our kids insisted that we join them for the trip. –Curt
Sadly, the ‘Soul Collector’ had fallen by the time we arrived. So glad you got a pic of it.
The soul collector was the one that I heard one of its carvers saying to a carver of another sculpture, “You owe me a dollar, it’s still standing.” 🙂 –Curt
I can see how folks with art degrees have it over those of us who just put ice cubes into glasses. This stuff is fabulous!!
Some of the world’s top ice artists were in Fairbanks, and it definitely showed. I wish I could have been there for the whole event. –Curt
Had to check out the Mongolian ice carvers after your comment on my Mongolia post – fascinating! “The Beginning of Time” is very cool – I wonder how they make that ball seem to float?!
A whole new world of art, Lex. One of the Mongolian ice carvers said that his reason for carving was to bring people to Mongolia. I was fascinated to watch them work. They have quite a set of specialty tools.The ice comes from a pond right next to the show. It is crystal clear.
It was interesting that many of the carvers first learned their art as chefs, doing small carvings for banquets and on cruise ships. –Curt
Still like Jellyfish Hunter the best for overall enjoyment, but The Beginning of Time makes my heart skip a beat. If I could mount that in my living room, I would buy it from the artists.
Me too! 🙂 Any of them could grace my house… –Curt