Ice sculpting has been an art form and skill for thousands of years. Indigenous peoples from around the world have used and manipulated ice for construction, food preservation, and art. Human beings have existed alongside ice since before the last ice age. So – how does that long legacy continue today? Well, in Fredericton at least, it continues with the Downtown FROSTival Ice Sculpture Showcase.
2021 marks six years of the Downtown FROSTival Ice Sculpture Showcase. Richard Chaisson, of Ice Creations Glace, is the artist behind the ice. Trained as a professional chef, Chaisson first learned about using ice as an artistic medium in his cooking training. He has been working the ice since 1980.
This year, there are eleven ice sculptures to be found around downtown Fredericton as part of the ice display. On George Street, there is one in front of the Boyce Farmers Market. On King Street, there are sculptures in front of Milltown, Savage’s Bicycle Centre, Graystone Brewing, Tim Hortons, and RustiCo & Kingwest Breweries. There’s one sculpture on St. John Street at Assante Wealth Management, and four on Queen (in front of Chess Piece, Radical Edge, the Donut Bar, and Sequoia).
These ice sculptures represent the spirit of the businesses they stand in front of, just as those businesses represent the true spirit of Fredericton. Especially this year, as so many FROSTival events were cancelled, it’s a comforting sight to see the ice sculptures outside of local shops, restaurants, businesses, and breweries.
Now, Ice Creations Glace, which has Richard Chaisson as one of their expert ice carvers, sells custom ice sculptures. This means that for an event, it is possible to commission a piece of winter beauty of your very own! Their website lists the details and costs associated with these commissions, but the very idea of being able to take home a masterpiece? Wonderful. The fact that the masterpiece has a limited lifespan outside the refrigerator only makes it more special. Beauty is, as they say, fleeting. Additionally, Ice Creations Glace occasionally offers classes where you can learn to do your very own ice sculpting.
Watching a block of ice be turned into an art piece is an immersive experience. In any other context, the chainsaws, picks, and chisels would seem more at home in a horror movie than in an artist’s tool kit. But in the hands of people like Richard Chaisson, those same intimidating tools can do the same work as the most delicate of paintbrushes.
The next time you’re taking a walk in downtown Fredericton, don’t forget to stop and admire the frigid winter art. It’s only there for a limited time!