Snow drawings to decorate Yampa Valley’s white canvas again |

Snow drawings to decorate Yampa Valley’s white canvas again

Nicole Inglis

— On a silent, snowy Wednesday morning on Lake Catamount, installation artist Sonja Hinrichsen snowshoed down one of the cross-country ski trails, peering between the falling snowflakes at the 530-acre lake at what soon will become the canvas for a large-scale piece of landscape artwork.

In less than 20 minutes, as she returned to the warmth of the Outfitter's Center, her snowshoe prints in the snow almost were filled in by the falling snow.

The impermanence of snow as an art medium is what attracted her to creating art installations through footprint-made patterns in the snow.

"I like to do work that disappears," said Hinrichsen, who flew into Steamboat this weekend from her home in San Francisco. "I don't want to make artwork that lasts. I like that I'm creating something that nature takes back."

Hinrichsen will make her snow drawings in Routt County for the third year this weekend, and for the second time she is enlisting the help of as many community volunteers as possible.

An informal meeting to sign-up for this weekend's three-day project begins at 5 p.m. Thursday at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library, where potential participants can sign waivers, learn more about the project, meet Hinrichsen and view photos from last year's project.

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Library adult programs coordinator Jennie Lay said this year's snow drawings will require more volunteers.

"It's a big canvas," Lay said. "I worked with her the entire weekend last year, and it's time consuming, and it's a lot of work. But it's really fun, and it's a great workout."

Lay said the weather outlook could not be better. After a snowy week, skies are forecast to remain clear throughout the weekend. Lake Catamount director of lake operations Dave McAtee said the lake has received about 15 inches of snow this week, and that still was in the midst of a major snowstorm that is expected to continue into Thursday afternoon.

"We have a fresh canvas and blue skies to create this beautiful work of art on our landscape," Lay said.

The creation of this year's snow drawings will take place at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday and at 10 a.m. Sunday. Each session will be an all-day affair.

Anyone is invited to participate and is encouraged to attend the sign-up meeting Thursday. Participants also are encouraged to bring their own snowshoes, snacks and water to the site each day. Catamount Ranch & Club's Lake House will be open for lunch.

The snow drawings returning to Steamboat is a result of collaboration among the library, the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and The Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch, where Hinrichsen first made the snow drawings two years ago by herself.

Last year, Hinrichsen spent two weekends in January making the drawings on Rabbit Ears Pass with about a dozen volunteers, after which she took aerial photos of the final product.

Those photos will be on display for the month of February at Harwigs/L’Apogee with support from RED Contemporary Gallery and the Arts Council. That show will host an opening from 5 to 8 p.m. during First Friday Artwalk.

In the months after the Rabbit Ears project, the photos and an aerial video by local videographer Cedar Beauregard circulated the Internet and the globe, syndicating the story and stunning images through media outlets across the world.

But Hinrichsen hopes the work does more than inspire awe. She hopes those involved in the creation of the works, as well as those who see them after the fact, gain a new perspective on the local landscape and an insightful appreciation for the environment.

"People have become more detached from the natural world," she said. "I kind of want to help make people more aware and conscious of the environment."

Another snowstorm could be rolling into the Yampa Valley next week, but Hinrichsen isn't concerned about the artwork disappearing.

"I do want it to stay in people's memories," she said.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

Snow drawings schedule


5 to 7 p.m. Meet-and-greet, sign-up and slideshow at Bud Werner Memorial Library


11 a.m. Volunteer day at Lake Catamount

5 to 8 p.m. “Snow Drawings” art opening at Harwigs/L’Apogee


11 a.m. Volunteer day at Lake Catamount


10 a.m. Volunteer day at Lake Catamount

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