Sunday, February 14, 2010


The studio had been invited to participate in a group show in Long Island City. We elected to make a life-sized sculpture of our landlord.

These images were taken about three hours into the sweaty-hot party and his nose had already begun to disappear. But you get the idea.

I think we had nine blocks budgeted for this piece. Our landlord was a good sport and let us photograph him 360ยบ. Its a difficult task to turn the images from photographs into drawings on a life-sized sculpture and I won't go into detail about it here. But, basically, if you can draw quickly and make a likeness of a person in a few lines you probably would have the skills to get better at this kind of thing.

For me, this was half a day on the floor (building and rough-carving) and another half-day in the freezer. This is about the most time we would spend on a sculpture. Usually all the work is done on the studio floor and only on rare occasions is the freezer used as a workspace.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cleveland; January 2008

This was the first competition in which we had an opportunity to compete. My teammate was a co-worker and friend, Kaz Adachi, and we elected to make a piece that was an intentional tribute to the city where the term "Rock 'n Roll" was allegedly coined and where the current museum to this name exists.

Cleveland, I should note, is my hometown. The man who organized the event, Aaron, was an old friend of the Okamotos and an all-around nice guy. He is the proprietor of an ice sculpture company in the Cleveland area. He happened to email Shintaro (the director at Okamoto Studio NYC, and also friend) about a 10-block competition when we all happened to be interested in doing it. If you didn't know, each block is 40x20x10" and weighs 300lbs. In metric terms thats about 102x51x25cm@136KG. Kaz and I had been working with the Okamotos for about two years at this point, mostly with Takeo (superstar, teacher and friend). Frankly, the idea of having two whole days to carve 10 blocks and the luxury of sleeping a night seemed like a vacation from life in NYC.

Cocky as we may have been, we still had to compete against Shintaro and Takeo who were far more prepared for such competitions, having placed silver in the 1998 Nagano Olympics and having invented ice sculpture as far as I'm concerned. Also, we quickly realized that every other group taking part in the competition was equally prepared; Kaz and I, conversely, invented our sculpture in haste, in the back of the van, as we were driving into town. We made a moquette with some modeling clay i'd bought the night before that was based on some printouts of a friend mimicking the pose we were looking for.

The idea , we quickly learned, is to use as much of the material as possible. We tried our best and finished with a second place medal, after Takeo and Shintaro, of course. We were proud to be the good students and happy nobody noticed just how must material we'd cut off of our sculpture.

Our sculpture was of Jimi Hendrix. Everyone likes Jimi Hendrix, we presumed, and his character seemed like the kind of thing that was at once recognizable as well as a suitable way to play populist amongst the Cleveland area crowd. It worked in our favor, but was no match for their statue of the single greatest football player who ever lived, Jim Brown. I'll see if I can get some pictures of this.