When Eau Claire winters are at their bleakest, professional artists Jason Anhorn and Steve Bateman set out to brighten the barren landscape.
For eight weeks in January and February, the two artists carve blocks of compacted snow into larger-than-life sculptures in the city’s Boyd Park.
Along with their friend David Andrews, Jason and Steve form a snow-carving team known as the “Starvin’ Carvists.”
Their work involves design, careful craftsmanship and a unique set of tools:
“Drywall saws are nice, horse brushes, just regular painter’s brush to clear away snow after you make some cuts, joist hangers, aluminum saws, ice chisels, and a lot of hard work or play, however you look at it,” Anhorn said.
The team began when Bateman and Anhorn studied at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Another student asked the two to help him at an upcoming snow-carving competition in Michigan.
“Anyhow, he got Steve involved, and Steve asked me to get involved,” Anhorn said. “It was as simple as that. You know, once you try it, you’re just doing it for fun, but then it gets pretty serious and you realize you can make some large object in the middle of a public park and inspire people hopefully.”
The team often carves in competitions around the country and the world.
“We won first place in Italy at this competition with a sailboat,” Anhorn remembered. “There was a competition in downtown Chicago, Chicago Snowdays, and … the Swedish news came and interviewed our team.”
In 2013 and 2014, the team also one first prize at the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition at Lake Geneva. In 2015, they tried for a third consecutive win, carving an intricate tree sculpture.
“The name of (the) piece is Arbor Amour, and it’s about togetherness and connecting, with two trees that are growing together, intertwining and almost creating an Irish knotwork,” team member David Andrews said. “It was a really technical challenge getting all the proportions.”
Though the competition was tough, Arbor Amour won the team a third consecutive first prize in 2015.
For more info on future competitions .