Snow Days...

As you may have deduced from my relatively small number of posts this month, and the fact that 25% of them had to do with cooking at home, I have been in a bit of a hibernation phase this January. Aside from a few art-house documentaries I went to see (and skipped reviewing, since virtually no one in this audience would be able to see them), I've mostly been staying in and avoiding the cold. Today, however, it was time to get brave and venture out for a bit of winter fun.

Last year, I was impressed by the Snow Days Festival, which I attended mostly because it was basically outside my front door and it seemed ridiculous to miss it. I admired the artistry of the various snow sculptures, and was awed by the quality of the pieces I saw. As a result, I was excited to see signs for this year's festival -- until I noticed that it was being moved from the park across the street to Navy Pier, the epicenter of the Chicago tourism industry. Sure, more people were likely to attend (a benefit in the eyes of the Mayor's Office of Special Events), but I appreciated the intimate quality of the smaller event, and felt that it enriched what is often an impersonal neighborhood in which to live.

Still, I hauled myself, along with Justin and Lauren, out to Navy Pier to take in this year's Snow Days sculpture competition, which was larger in scope, and featured more competitors than last year. The quality of the pieces was just as high, if not higher, and I was glad we made the effort to go, even if it was considerably more of a hassle this year. Check it out for yourself:

My favorite thing about this aquatic scene is the level of detail and texture they were able to achieve in the coral.

This team, which features an eccentric, wild-bearded leader in a tri-cornered hat, also competed at last year's Snow Days Festival. This year, they tackled social commentary with a piece intended to tell the story of the Great Recession.

A team from Russia crafted this detailed work, and it's clear that all that cold weather provides ample practice opportunities.

Although perhaps not the most impressive sculpture of the day, it was nice to see this rendition of Japan's Himeji Castle, which I visited with Katherine in 2008.

Representing the story of Davy Jones' Locker, this sculpture featured a daunting level of detail, down to the individually sculpted doubloons pouring out of the treasure chest at the bottom.

Lauren took this photo of Justin and I in front of the Davy Jones sculpture. It just goes to show the importance of selecting a proper camera setting, as the details are mostly lost without the snow-specific setting in effect.

I appreciated the sense of humor inherent in this one, as well as the creative use of ice for the upper penguin's drumsticks.

Marcel Duchamp's 1912 painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 served as the inspiration behind this abstract piece.

This Medusa sculpture was my favorite, and it garnered my vote for "Best In Show." I find that I am always the most impressed by sculptures with lots of gravity defying negative space -- it amazes me that they don't collapse under their own weight.

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