Somewhere inside an eight foot slab of snow, Vic Germaniuk saw his masterpiece.
The artist and his partner Bruce Ross had arrived in Tofte via Thunder Bay, Ontario to carve up a snow sculpture for the Bluefin Bay entrance.
What kind of a sculpture?
Germaniuk wanted it to be a surprise. After he’d spent six years in the snow-carving business, five of them at Bluefin, his creations have included a jazz-playing bird made in tribute to Charlie Parker as well as a bear in a sinking boat with a fish in its mouth.
Machetes in hand, Ross and Germaniuk circled the slab, making note of its consistency, finding holes that needed to be patched. Then they started chopping.
For all the wonder that a finished snow carving brings, it’s difficult to make a full-time job out of it during the limited season. Germaniuk also works with wood. He started as a sign painter, and then he moved on to specialized woodwork, including furniture from his own designs.
As an artist Germaniuk, says he is drawn to work that is unique and surprising, that gives the viewers something to think about.
“I always like to tell a story,” he said.
Unlike, say, a marble bust, Germaniuk knows that his snow creations are for limited time only. And yet, that in itself, says something about the nature of the seasons, about life.
“The only thing constant in life is change,” he remarked.
That’s why Germaniuk says he is less focused on the finished product than he is on the process itself. Working with snow, is especially unique now because unlike other forms of sculpting, there are no specialized sets of tools for the medium. The artists create their own. Germaniuk has scrapers fashioned from carved wood and truss material.
Sometimes, the medium requires the sculptors to change plans quickly, as in when the legs of a moose they were carving collapsed on the last day of an earlier visit to Bluefin. They were able to create a beaver out of the remains – surrounded by stumps. When a couple dropped by to ask what happened to the moose, Germaniuk said that someone had shot it.
There’s no mistaking the satisfaction that Germaniuk took as he worked the machete over the snowy surface. Little by little, his creation of the owl and woman began to emerge.
– Tom Fagin, Activities