Jan 20-22: Big weekend for enjoying, and thinking about, winter!

Now that we have passed the typical coldest average day of the year, and that we have some snow on the ground, it is a good time for ‘winter festival’ season to kick into high gear! Since I do not have children, I will have less about the aspects of these events which area geared toward educating and entertaining children – but that is key to these festivals! I will spend more time in the post reflecting on the joys adults can find out on the town for Gallery Night, another great way to engage the season in Milwaukee.

One aspect that unifies many of these events is sculpting of snow and ice. How many of us have made snowmen at one point or another, enjoying our creative abilities through a simple sculpture outdoors? Here is a chance to see those who are sharp hands at working with those materials, but don’t let that intimidate you from playing with the snow yourself! Also take note of the variety of activities; chances to learn from educators who know about winter nature, to move through the landscape in a variety of ways, unusual activities with winter themes, and activities both inside and out. That is what winter appreciation is about. There are chances to enjoy winter in Racine, Waukesha, and all throughout the Milwaukee area, so I hope you check out the extraordinary world outside this weekend!


January 20:

Winter Gallery Night, all around town

A great indoor/outdoor mix; you get to keep stepping outside to be a part of winter, then stepping inside to warm up and see the delights of urban life! I will be one of the judges of, and am a sponsor of, the ice sculpting competition in the 3rd Ward. I enjoy seeing these temporary sculptures being created, and lasting for weeks to come (depending on weather). A chance to see art made from winter’s materials – all while checking out the delightful work of many local artists. Our creative community keeps on going during the winter! Info at http://www.historicthirdward.org/events/sculpturesonice.php

Winter Chapel opens, Portrait Society Gallery

This is a great example of actively engaging the season, rather than stepping back from it, or complaining about it. This is not a chapel presenting typical or sentimental images of winter. It pushes us to pause, to reflect, to consider what a “winter chapel” might mean to various artists – and to us. It creates a space for reflection, and consideration in subtle ways of what certain shapes, colors, and architecture might have to say about how we encounter and interpret winter. The Ambassador of Snow is proud to be a sponsor of this creative perspective on winter. This year, Keith Nelson will design a room, and Paula Schluze will be decorating it. The Chapel is “meant to offer an experiential encounter with visitors.” More info at http://portraitsocietygallery.wordpress.com/

“Bright Winter” art exhibit opens, Hotpop.

I am looking forward to checking out this project by Kim Weiss and Erin Paisley. They are engaging the season by reflecting upon how we respond to it, including how people have traditionally reflected their winter experiences through craft work. Brief description from artists: “displaying their interpretations of what they call “Bright Winter”- the urge that we have to romanticize winter during these coldest and greyest months of the year. Erin’s delicate paintings and drawings are inspired by the women and traditions of Siberia, where the long cold winters contrast to a rich tradition of craft making, represented in their vibrant textiles and ornamentation. Kim’s work uses relief printmaking collaged onto wood, creating cyclical portals into scenes from wintry homes and landscapes.”


Big Chill starts (runs through Sunday), downtown Racine

Enjoy ice sculptures and snow sculptures, as well as sled dogs. More info at http://www.racinedowntown.com/TheBigChill.html


Janboree, Waukesha, various locations.

A variety of indoor and outdoor events, including horse rides, indoor and outdoor skating, a penguin egg hunt, karaoke for kids, a recycled sled race and fireworks. More info at http://www.janboree.org/


January 22

Winter Carnival, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Family event, including nature tracking for younger children, and snowshoeing for those 12 and up. Educators will help people explore the beauty of live animals, snow crystals, and ice formations on the lakeshore. More info at http://www.sanc.org/speeve.htm

Don’t miss your chance to step out and play, to figure out how to adapt to winter and enjoy it! Let the artworks reframe your thinking and perception. Let the festivals remind you how one can enjoy the pleasures of play – and the beauty of sculptures made from winter’s materials. Watch the children find ways to enjoy moving around, and reshaping the winter landscape! Let that remind you that you can take the time to enjoy it as well. And be ready for more winter-themed events on the upcoming weekend!

About MilwaukeeSnow

Dr. Jeffrey Filipiak, Milwaukee's Ambassador of Snow, loves winter, Milwaukee, and environmental history! He has taught college courses on topics including history, writing, environmental ethics, food studies, the Great Lakes, and sustainability. You can contact him at ambassadorofsnow@gmail.com.
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