Community as art
January 18, 2012
Snow sculpting did more than beautify downtown Driggs
Ralph Mossman and Mary Mullaney pose in front of their snow sculpture last week that they worked to complete with the help of team. Both, along with the enthusiasm of the community, created one of the most memorable Snow Fest events. Courtesy photo
Chicago had the cows. Jackson had buffalo. And now Driggs has snow.
The Great Snow Fest was a bright spot for the valley during some of the darkest days of the year, but for Mary Mullaney and Ralph Mossman, neither could anticipate the response received from the snow sculpting project that lined cars bumper to bumper along Main Street in Driggs last week. With local artists working to create magnificent pieces of work from blocks of snow, the community art project was more than a reminder of how art creates community and community, in turn, created art.
“When I think of cities I’ve visited and I’ve enjoyed, it’s the public art that really stands out for me,” said Mary on Tuesday. “Somehow that makes a place memorable.”
“It makes you want to hang out,” said Ralph who added, “We’re not just a traffic light and a turn to Grand Targhee. There’s an amazing community here too.”
The husband and wife team, who together make up Heron Glass in Driggs, slid head first into a project that seemed to snowball with each call for help, from grant writers to boys with big plows, Mother Nature’s threat of sunshine and warm winds did not deter progress, even when doubts rained down, literally.
“People who didn’t have exposure to art, helped create the art,” said Ralph. In the end, he added, the project could have been bigger. With the support and force of Driggs City Mayor Dan Powers, Corey Murdock with RM Concrete solidified the project like concrete.
“The concrete forms were major,” said Mary of completing the project. “When Corey Murdock said, “sure,” and donated all the forms and labor, that’s when we realized it was doable and people would help to that degree.”
And as the concrete forms started to go up a couple of weeks ago, so did the communities curiosity as to what was transpiring in front of Driggs City Hall. From the snow stompers to the first swipe into the snow blocks, the community continued to show up. Families, some every day to watch the sculptors progress, school students in neat lines parading through the Main Street, and people from every part of the valley and every walk of life.
“It served to slow people down,” said Mary. “Whether they were on their way to anywhere, they stopped being
on their way. We saw people do u-turns. It made a community space where people could exchange in a positive environment.”
“It really was a family thing for every age,” said Ralph. That said, they had 1,200 ballots cast before the winning sculpture was announced. A third of those ballots came from children, said Mary.
And as Driggs continues to crave out its emerging identity that was prophesied as the “Cultural Hub of the Universe,” community art, even art that will eventually sag and sink as the days move on, will continue to play an important role in creating and building a community as dynamic and unpredictable as Mother Nature herself.
“There is a lesson in impermanence,” said Mary of the snow sculptures. “It’s still worth pursuing things that you can’t keep.”