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Thomas Barlow’s ice sculptures return to Snowmass Village

Live demonstrations, neon lights and colorful designs add fresh elements all season long

Multimedia artist Thomas Barlow smooths out the inside of a hole in his ice sculpture so that kids can put their faces in for photos in Snowmass Mall on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Barlow will be creating work twice a month through March, tentatively. Barlow is planning to create a mammoth, an interactive gondola cab, and a logo at The Collective with different words and a bench. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Thomas Barlow’s ice sculptures are back in Snowmass Village, with fresh elements in new and returning designs alike.

“What we really try to do is make sure we add something more to the display each year to increase its impact,” Barlow said. This year, that means long-term installations in the Snowmass Mall and Base Village with new features including neon lights and colorful sand, plus live ice sculpting demonstrations all season.

Among the designs to come this season: an intricate ice skater, an 8-foot mastodon and a full-size gondola cab, plus selfie-ready snowflakes, a Snowmass logo, and an ice bench with the Colorado flag as its base.



Some of those shapes will look familiar to those who saw Barlow’s work during the Snowmass Light Festival last season or the Snowmass 50th anniversary celebration during the 2017-18 winter season. This year, Barlow will incorporate fresh elements into new and returning designs alike.

The snowflakes are tinted with neon-hued lights, inspired in part by neon works from glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, Barlow said. That Snowmass logo is full-color this year, thanks to vibrant shades of tinted sand layered inside the sculpture; the Colorado flag bench has the same effect.



Barlow’s carving demonstrations will bring his designs to life in the span of just a few hours, from noon to 4 p.m. He’ll form the ice skater on Dec. 23 in Base Village and will create the gondola cab on Dec. 30 in the Snowmass Mall.

“They can transpire pretty quickly,” Barlow said of the process; whereas snow sculptures can take days to complete, “with an ice sculpture you can have something within hours.”

So a block of ice at lunchtime becomes a work of art by the time aprés begins at the hands of a skilled sculptor like Barlow. The Carbondale-based artist has worked with ice for nearly three decades; he also uses materials such as wood, steel, sand, snow or cake in his other works.

Some of the installations in Snowmass Village also implement computer technology to carve precise, detailed designs like logos. But there won’t be any robots chiseling away on the Snowmass Mall: that work happens offsite, with help from a programmer and digital designer.

“I mean, to an artist, it’s a bit of a contradiction, because of course I’m a sculptor by nature,” Barlow said.

Out in the elements, it’s just Barlow, his tools and a creative vision as he removes chunks of ice to create his sculptures, he said.

The live sculpting events, which will take place every other Wednesday throughout the winter season in the Snowmass Mall, give Barlow the chance to continue creating and shaping his art over time. That’s unique in the world of ice sculpting, Barlow said, because works designed for festivals and special events often have to be removed from the space shortly after they’re created.

“As an artist of this medium it’s not as often that I get the invite to come back and actually be with the sculpture a month later,” Barlow said. Thanks to some “opportunistic” placements throughout Snowmass Village, these sculptures are “virtually guaranteed to be there for some time,” he said.

For a full schedule of upcoming demonstrations, visit gosnowmass.com/events.

kwilliams@aspentimes.com

 


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