Tag Archive | "winter festival"

The Icemen Cometh to HarborFrost

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Scott Rella

Carving Frozen Sculptures Enters the Realm of the Theatrical

By Annette Hinkle

While most artists strive to create art for the ages, there is a whole other class of artist for whom creative expression is more about the moment.

There’s something poetic about art forms that aren’t meant to last. Sidewalk murals, mandalas, sand castles — all are ethereal creations which in a very short time, are blown or washed away by the forces of nature, their existence made more precious by the fact it was so fleeting in the first place.

At this time of year, it’s easy to imagine another example of an impermanent art form— the ice sculpture. Carved of the strongest of winter’s materials, it takes only the subtle heat of the first less than frigid day to turn it into a melted memory that fades away as quickly, or slowly, as the weather dictates.

Scott Rella knows all about that. The founder of “Fear No Ice!” (one of four ice sculpting companies he has created) Rella has been working with the cold stuff since 1981 and has made quite an art form of it. He lives in Vail, Colorado now, but got his start in ice sculpting right here in his native New York.

Initially, Rella, who attended the New York Academy of Art, started out by sculpting more traditional materials – clay and marble. Then while he was working as a chef, a fellow chef asked if he had ever worked with ice.

“I started and that was it,” says Rella. “My first piece was at the Waldorf Astoria and they used it. It was a basket, which is always everyone’s first piece. I started getting into more challenging pieces right away.”

Within a few years, Rella had created ice sculptures in Rockefeller Center and as part of New York City’s Ice Expo, and his future as an ice sculptor was cemented.

“I never went back to marble sculpting,” he says.

But Rella is coming back to New York — this weekend, in fact, when he and sculpting partner Peter Slavin visit Sag Harbor to show off their talents at HarborFrost. Make no mistake, these guys (along with a third partner, Kevin Roscoe, who won’t be making the trip to Sag Harbor) are among the best in the world and in fact, have taken ice sculpting to a new level. Rella and his fellow ice sculptors have been in world competitions as far away as China, and have even created sculptures as part of the Olympics.

“Soon, we’ll be able to add Sag Harbor to the list,” says Rella.

Artists with a flair for the theatrical, “Fear No Ice!” is about more than just creating impressive ice sculptures, though they are masters at that. Half the fun is witnessing the sculptors in action. In fact, “Fear No Ice!” is really an ice performance troupe. Often wearing all white gear, Rella and his team offer dramatic and comedic elements as they turn huge blocks of ice into unique works of art (think Blue Man Group with chainsaws and chisels).

“The boys don’t talk – but they just do incredible stuff really quickly, in 25 minutes, and blow everyone away,” explains Rella. “People watch in total amazement.”

“None of it’s rehearsed. Every show we sculpt is different,” adds Rella. “Once we figure out what the show is and how big we are going to make it, we storyboard it on paper. But to the audience, it’s always a surprise.”

So what can audiences in Sag Harbor expect to see on Saturday?

“Peter and I are going to bring a bunch of ice, we’ll stack it up and then we’ll carve it,” explains Rella. “On one end of Main Street, we’re planning to make a throne where people can sit and get their photos taken.”

At the other end of Main Street by the Civil War monument, Rella notes the final frozen product will be a surprise.

What we do know is that the sculptures will be made of ice provided by Rella’s own company (Ice Sculpture Designs, Rella’s first firm is in Deer Park, N.Y. and is now run by his sister. It produces about 145 ice sculptures a week for weddings and other events in the area). Rella has installed special ice making machines all over the world that supply the raw material for his firms’ sculpting ventures. Rella explains that pumps in the machines circulate the water so there is no oxygen in it — a requirement for making the kind of clear ice preferred for sculpting. Each sheet weighs 300 pounds, and depending on the sculpture, preparation can involve stacking a few hundred of these sheets atop one another, or just a few.

“We create ice lounges, and we’ve done a lot of big structures,” he says.

So is there anything that Rella and his team can’t make out of ice? What is his favorite thing to sculpt these days?

“Pretty much everything’s possible,” says Rella. “I’ve been sculpting since March of ’81. It’s been 30 years. For Peter and myself, what we’re into changes and has a dozen times. There are things I would’ve never sculpted 15 years ago because I thought they were boring, or not challenging and are now interesting. Like any artist, my interests change and my focus changes.”

“From an artist’s perspective, I’m into things in public spaces now — like a series of giant ears I did along a river, or a giant shell with a spiraling wall around it that represents the past and present — millions of years ago, Colorado was under water.”

“When people say ‘That looks out of place,’ I say it really isn’t. It’s the buildings that are out of place,” explains Rella. “I’m into seducing them — getting people to ask ‘Oh, it’s five ears, why did he sculpt that?’ And I say, ‘Are you listening?’”

This Saturday, February 5, the chainsaw sculpting talents of Fear No Ice! take place at 3 p.m. on Long Wharf and at 4 p.m. at the far end of Main Street near the Civil War monument.

Take a Stroll, Take a Taste

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Cul stroll pic

Eating and drinking your way though the village in a benefit culinary event.
By Emily J. Weitz

Drifts of ice float through the channel between North Haven and Shelter Island, where sailboats once bobbed. And that can be reason either to retreat into our respective hideaways or to celebrate. Sag Harbor has chosen the latter. That’s why this coming Saturday, February 5, is a day when you should hope you didn’t book that trip to Barbados or plan to meet up with friends in the city. Because with fireworks displays and restaurant crawls, live music and ice carvings, Sag Harbor is right where it’s at.

While this is officially the first annual HarborFrost, it’s an idea that’s been in the making for quite some time. Charlie Canavan of the Sag Harbor Hysterical Society has been helping take the bite out of winter for Sag Harbor residents for the past ten years with events like this Saturday’s culinary stroll, sponsored by the society. The purpose of the Hysterical Society is “to get people together for someone who needs a boost.”

Proceeds from these events have always gone to some member of the community who could use the help, whether it was someone battling cancer or a family that couldn’t afford to put dinner on the table. The recipient of this year’s donation is yet to be determined, but the event itself is more than enough reason to come out and connect with the community.
This year, five local restaurants are involved, and participants will get to sample some of the signature dishes of each. As they wander from place to place, they’ll be accompanied by three traveling musicians.

“The musicians will accompany us into the restaurants, we’ll get drinks, and enjoy the spread for 45 minutes or so,” says Canavan, “then we head to the next restaurant. Maybe we’ll stop in between for some songs on the sidewalk. We’ll do this four or five times.”

In addition, the stroll has been designed to take advantage of the other events of the day.

“We are going to lead the troops past ice carving and ice sculptures taking place on the pier, and another on the south side of town,” says Canavan. “We’ll time our stroll so I can bring participants to the wharf at 5:45 for the fireworks display.”

The stroll begins with registration at Phao at 2 p.m. Participants will receive chefs hats and crayons and the cash bar will be open “to get everybody warmed up,” says restaurant manager Harrison Platz. A special bacon infused bourbon cocktail will be featured.

“This is made with center cut double hickory smoked bacon with Basil Hayden’s Bourbon,” says Platz. The rest of Phao’s creative cocktails, like the Devilish Romance (Prosecco with St Germaine liquer and pomegranate juice) and the Sake Martini (Organic Crop Cucumber Vodka and Kaori Sake) will be available. House favorites like chicken satay with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, lamb lollipops in a garlic cilantro soy reduction, and curry puffs in fresh cucumber pickle relish will be served.

“We chose [these appetizers] for this event because they are representative of the style and quality our cuisine has to offer,” says Platz. “People rave about our lamb lollipops; they are fall off the bone amazing.”
Phao’s next-door neighbor, Sen, will also be donating food to the cause, so sushi rolls and crab cakes will be on hand.

At about 3:15, the group, in their giant chef’s hats, will be ushered down Main Street to Windmill Beach, where they can catch a glimpse of the Frosty Plunge (3:30). After that they’ll head over to Bay Street Theatre, where musicians from the weekly Jam Session will be in full swing. The three strolling musicians will join right in.

“The stroll itself is a tremendous way to build community spirit,” says Canavan. “Many of these people have never met, and they get to know each other as well as the fine restaurants they’ve never visited.”

After a taste of the afternoon jam, it’s back to the serious business of culinary consumption. At 4:30, LT Burger will have a spread of their gourmet style burgers.

“They’ve got a lot of cutting-edge things on the menu,” says Canavan. “Their hamburger, cheeseburger, and tuna burger are all very unique.”
After getting their fill of the down-home cooking at LT, the group will check out the fireworks display and then head up to New Paradise.

“They have the greatest chicken dinner you’ll ever eat in your life,” says Canavan. “This is off the charts.” When one of the restaurants wants to offer an entrée, they’ll cut it up into finger food portions so guests can sample the best of their menu while still pacing themselves.

At 7:30, the group is expected at Il Capuccino for real Italian cooking (have you HAD their garlic knots?). In a private dining room hors d’eouvres will be set out including stuffed mushrooms, rigatoni a la vodka, and eggplant rollotini. Then it’s down to Blue Sky by around 8:15, where the mussels meunerie should not be missed. The bar and lounge will be open late into the evening.

“It’s going to be lots of walking, singing, socializing and taking in the sites of HarborFrost,” says Canavan. “It’s an opportunity for these restaurants to show off a little bit, and we get to stroll around and take in the beauty of this little village.” The Culinary Stroll is $40, and proceeds go to a member of our community who’s in need. Sign up at Phao between 2 and 3:15 on Saturday. For more information call 725-7936.

HarborFrost Plans to Bring Spark to Winter

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By Claire Walla

HarborFest … in February?

That’s the idea.

This winter, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce aims to hold the first of what it hopes will become an annual tradition based on the successful September event. This one will instead be called HarborFrost.

This year’s proposed one day Frost, tentatively set for Saturday, February 5 from 3 to 7 p.m., will revolve around the theme “Fire and Ice,” an idea that will manifest itself through the event’s main spectacles. In addition to flanking Main Street with two ice sculptures (as of yet with undetermined designs), the event will be capped-off by a fire works display that will light-up the winter sky over Long Wharf. Event planners are also floating the idea of having a hot soup contest (in the same vein of HarborFest’s chowder contest), and will encourage local restaurants to offer post-fireworks prix fixe menus.

“The goal is to get some sort of winter activity to give Sag Harbor families something to do in the wintertime,” said chamber member Phil Bucking, owner of the Sag Harbor Gardening Center and one of the catalysts behind this year’s event.

Plans to implement HarborFrost are not yet set in stone, though the Chamber of Commerce hopes to have insurance and logistical documentation to the village trustees by Friday, a few days before the board’s meeting on Monday, January 10 at 6 p.m.

Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Robert Evjen said that he and other chamber members have been toying with the idea of creating a winter festival for a few years now. Based on the success of HarborFest, held each September, HarborFrost will bring people to Main Street for a day of shopping, eating and celebrating — in spite of the cold.

“We want an event that will help our businesses in the winter months,” Evjen added. The event could be especially helpful for stores looking to clean-out last year’s summer merchandise in preparation for the coming year. Keeping with the theme of fire and ice, one of the chamber’s ideas is for stores to sell summer (fire) merchandise alongside winter (ice) goods.
Previous attempts to create such a Frost have included more ambitious activities, like a Polar Bear Plunge and plans to bring an ice-skating rink to Main Street. But these ideas never came to fruition, Bucking said.

“Funding has been an issue, and it’s sometimes hard to get people involved,” he added.

This year, however, event organizers have a clear and simple plan of action, with several financial pledges already in place.

The total cost will run about $14,000, more than half of which is already expected to be covered by financial pledges.

Prudential Douglas Elliman, Brown Harris Stevens, Hampton Gym Corp and the Sag Harbor Express have pledged money that will go toward the cost of the ice sculptures (which will cost a total of $7,000); and local non-profit Save Sag Harbor has signed on to cover all media costs (which are budgeted at $2,000). What’s more, the Grucci family, which estimated the cost of a five to seven minute firework show at $5,000, said it would match any amount over that $5,000 total dollar-for-dollar. (In other words, if the chamber raises $7,500, the Grucci’s will put on a $10,000 show.)

Other Main Street businesses have reportedly expressed interest in making small financial contributions, should the village approve plans for HarborFrost at its trustee meeting on Monday.

“Since this is the first year, the plan is to do more and make the event bigger [each subsequent year],” Bucking explained. “This time, we just want to get the ball rolling.”