Snow art sprawls across Lake Catamount
February 2, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Nine-year-old Simone White smiled so big her braces glinted in the glaring midday sun.
It was exhausting work, but the young artist was making abstract art bigger than anything she had ever made before.
"From here it doesn't look like much," she said. "But in the pictures it looked so cool," she said.
Simone followed step by step in her father’s snowshoe steps, directed his turns, spirals and patterns. Circle by circle, step by step, the pair's work etched a piece of what will be remembered as the second year that the Steamboat community participated in artist Sonja Hinrichsen's impressive but impermanent art installation project.
"I like the way it just all goes together, like swirls," Simone said.
The snow was deep at Lake Catamount — knee- to thigh-deep in places — and every step was an exhaustive effort. Across the lake, the snowshoers stopped every several steps to pant, bask in the sun, examine their work and plan their next steps.
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But with 30 people spread out so far they looked like ants to one another, a cohesive and massive piece of artwork was taking shape.
Engineered and organized by San Francisco-based Hinrichsen, the snow drawings fused her thoughtful design with the individual freedom of each amateur artist.
"It's just a fun thing to do," said George Fargo, who was on the second day of his second year participating in the snow drawings as a volunteer. "It involves the community, you make some art and it's great exercise.
"Everyone's an artist."
The Steamboat Springs Arts Council and Bud Werner Memorial Library brought the snow drawings back to Steamboat after the successful snow drawings project last year on Rabbit Ears Pass. Hinrichsen first experimented with the work alone at Carpenter Ranch two years ago.
Volunteer days started on Friday and Saturday and will continue on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hinrichsen said on Saturday afternoon that she was the last person left out on the lake just before 5 p.m., and she’s looking forward to another full, sunny day of work.
"It's been really great," she said. "It was the best day you can imagine for it. I had tons of people this morning."
She said she couldn't tell from her vantage point on the lake how the various spirals turned out, but she will photograph the work from an airplane after it's complete. The drawings are also visible from Rabbit Ears Pass.
The volunteers involved ranged from families and couples to local artists who shared an interest in the intellectual aesthetics of the snow drawings.
Local painter Dona Steele said she hopes participating in the snow drawings for the second year in a row will help her “loosen up” in her realistic works.
Steele said she didn't mind that her tracks and all of her effort could be wiped away by the time the next storm is forecast to roll through Steamboat next week. She said the project reminded her of two and a half years ago when the Drepung Loseling monks of Tibet created an intricate piece of sand art before sweeping it all away and pouring it into the Yampa River.
It's beautiful, she said of impermanent art. It's like sand castles being washed away by waves.
"Nothing is permanent," she said.
"We don't always have to build things that last forever."
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com
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