By Andy McGivern, curator of exhibitions
Do you remember when you were a kid and school was called off due to an unusually heavy snowfall? It was like getting a Saturday during the school week; what a treat. My brothers and sisters and I would go sledding, build forts, have snowball fights, and just enjoy winter.
That’s what I figure it must’ve been like for the three talented snow carvers in Team USA, Mike Martino, Tom Queoff and Mike Sponholtz. I’m sure Tom, Mike and Sponz enjoyed the heck out of playing in the snow as kids and that they took to carving their first snow sculpture like fish to water.
I first met the guys back in 1989 to work out the details of their initial Woodson Art Museum sculpture. It was called “The Hatchling” and was an elegant carving of a baby bird in a nest with its wings extended. In 1995, after a string of bird-themed carvings, Team USA began carving exhibition-related sculpture subjects. That year they carved a giant “Very Hungry Caterpillar” to coincide with an exhibition of children’s book illustrations by Eric Carle.
Throughout 23 years of winter visits to Wausau and the Woodson Art Museum, Team USA has sculpted such subjects as a kangaroo, a gingerbread house, a giant one-eyed ogre, a cow and calf, a giant dragon slide, and a seated ball player from Colima. Last year they completed a figure riding a dinosaur to complement the popular James Gurney Dinotopia exhibition.
Team USA will be joining us Thursday through Saturday to complete a twelve-foot-tall sculpture of a tropical tree frog scaling down a leaf in a giant picture frame, as seen in the Museum’s exhibition of paper sculpture by Toronto artist Calvin Nicholls.
Be sure to stop in and say hi to Tom, Mike, and Sponz. After coming back for so many years, they’re like family – family that likes to play in the snow.