Making Magic with Snowflakes

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on January 22nd, 2014

Team USA Snow Sculptors return next week to work their winter magic for their 24th year at the Woodson Art Museum. To those of us who’ve bundled up and toiled away to create simple snowballs packed and stacked into rudimentary snowmen, these artists’ jaw-dropping creations are marvels.

Although they may seem to materialize from thin air and a sprinkling of pixie dust, these ephemeral wonders emerge because of the sculptors’ talents, experience, and efforts. Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz originally met while all were art students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Queoff, who’s run a sculpture studio in Milwaukee since 1978, assembled the team a year after he was asked to judge the first U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition in 1985. Since then, the team has created about 200 snow sculptures and competed in the 1998 Olympics.

Stop by the Museum on Friday and Saturday, January 31 and February 1, to witness Team USA at work wielding snow carving tools in lieu of magic wands. Decked out in parkas, snow pants, and fur-lined hats, the physical exertion of chiseling, climbing, and shaving snow will have them shedding winter gear in no time. Even so, the guys chat amiably with onlookers and manage to make it all look easy.

Perhaps it’s only fitting then that this year’s sculpture will be a rabbit emerging from a magician’s top hat, designed to complement artwork in Mystery, Magic, & Mayhem, two exhibitions opening on Saturday, January 25 – From Houdini to Hugo: The Art of Brian Selznick, complemented by colorful, historic lithographs created to promote performances by the masters of American magic.

Take a look at some of what these snow sculptors have pulled from their bag of tricks at the Woodson Art Museum throughout the years, and then plan to visit the Museum to see this year’s snow sculpture emerge. Team USA takes playing in the snow to a whole new level, truly working magic with snowflakes.


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