When Chauvet's marketing coordinator, Ben Dickmann, got the call from Mark Casadei, specialty lighting designer for Ice Alaska, the yearly World Ice Art Championships held in Fairbanks, Alaska, he had no idea where that conversation would take him. This was back in mid-January, Dickmann recalls. “He said, ‘Hi, I'm wondering just how durable your LED fixtures, specifically the Colorado™ 3s, are?’ and I responded, ‘Well, we are very confident that the Colorado 3 could do just about anything you have in mind.’ Little did I know what he had in mind!”
The World Ice Art Championships drew thousands of visitors from around the world and featured artists from more than a dozen countries throughout the month of March. Casadei wanted to use several Chauvet LED products to light the sculptures by actually burying the lights inside the mammoth blocks of ice for the duration of the Championships — an entire month.
“I have seen and done some pretty wild things with entertainment lighting, but this was the ultimate torture test,” Dickmann says. Snow and ice are really no big deal, but in Fairbanks, normal high temperatures are well below zero, and -40° F is common at night. “With its IP65 rating, the Colorado 3 was a perfect choice, but this was unlike anything I have ever put this type of lighting through.”
The units passed with flying colors, and even exceeded Casadei's hopes and expectations. He says, “I knew bringing the world of entertainment lighting into this environment was going to be a challenge. I had to look for a product that meets the durability requirements of extreme temperature.”
This year's championship included a special dedication to musher Susan Butcher, the four-time Iditarod Sled Dog Race Champion and one of Alaska's most highly regarded athletes who tragically died from leukemia last year. The Championship committee wanted to honor the life of the fallen Fairbanks resident in ice, so world champion ice sculptor Junichi Kamura of Japan designed a 60'-long, 12'-high sculpture carved by a team of six artisans from six different countries. It took them more than two weeks to sculpt 20 8'×4'×4' blocks into a masterpiece of ice art. The memorial depicts Butcher mushing her team of 12 dogs through the Alaskan wilderness beneath the glow of the Aurora Borealis. Using five Colorado 3 fixtures, Casadei backlit the wall of ice into a seamless, slowly fading, pulsing curtain of color. He also employed an additional two units to highlight the sculpture from the front, and two Colorsplash™ 196 LED units to light Butcher and her sled.
The other major project for Casadei was the main entrance to the park, a colossal, 30'-high ice mountain with a 20' clown sculpture that represented this year's theme, “The Greatest Show in Ice.” Four Colorado 3 fixtures colored the mountains to a rapid beat, mimicking the upbeat atmosphere of the circus and drawing people into the 10-acre park from the main road. Casadei says, “It is amazing how well the ice takes the color. The use of LED lighting in ice sculpting is truly the way of the future.”
The Colorado 3s were rotated around the park to highlight the winning sculptures of the competition and to demonstrate the capabilities of professional lighting to the artists and community at large. This included the “Thank You” sculpture to the event sponsors, a stage for award presentations and entertainment, as well as a life-sized reproduction of Stonehenge made entirely of ice. In total, 13 Colorado 3 and six Colorsplash 196 fixtures were used for the event.
Says event director Dick Brickley, “We could not be happier with the product. This advanced lighting adds to our sculptures and saves on our power bill.”