December 31, 2008 in City

Artist warms to frosty art form

Colorful creations carved from mountains of snow with shovels, knives, spatulas
Drew Maffei Staff writer
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Snow sculptor Michael Ankney, right, adds color to his giant bulldog sculpture while Harley the bulldog hops on his lap outside Bulldog Towing in Hillyard on Tuesday. Rodney Stankey, owner of the towing company, asked Ankney to turn his bounty of snow into a mascot.
(Full-size photo)

Snow-carver Michael Ankney has once again brought his unique art form to North Spokane.

By day, Ankney organizes volunteers for a group called the Hillyard Yard Dog. But his hobby is creating snow-carving marvels.

Ankney has created a 60-foot dragon and a human-sized squirrel in Spokane, he said.

This year his friend Rodney Sankey, owner of Bulldog Towing, asked Ankney to carve a huge bulldog in front of his business.

“I helped Ankney get started by stacking the snow and having pictures and other possible design ideas,” Sankey said Tuesday.

Added Ankney, “after examining the different objects and Sankey’s real bulldog, I started to have an idea for the sculpture.”

The bulldog, at 4727 N. Myrtle St., sits with its legs spread; the sitting position will make the structure last longer because compacted snow doesn’t melt as fast, Ankney said.

The tools of his art: shovels, knives and, on some occasions, spatulas, he said. He colors the sculptures using food coloring.

Ankney studied sculpture and painting in high school, he said. He cut hair for years but eventually returned to art.

His snow sculptures have been exhibited at the community’s New Year’s celebration, First Night, in years past, he said. He hopes to carve a cougar at First Night tonight.

Snow carving hasn’t caught on in the West, but “back East it is much more popular and they have competitions,” Ankney said.

Because public art isn’t as prominent in Spokane during the snowy winter, he hopes others follow his lead and take up snow sculpture, he said.

“I want to get people involved with lawn art.”


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