Okamoto Studio was on site at the World Financial Center's outdoor plaza this weekend showcasing their deft ice-carving skills. The live demonstrations resulted in a series of ice sculptures that made up a spectacular "Fantastical Botanical" scene for the public to enjoy. Supported by Arts Brookfield, six carvers were hard at work with chisels and chainsaws, creating an ice garden of delights like a frozen water vase filled with bamboo and even an icy birdbath.
Okamoto Studio has a long-history of talented ice carving skill. Founded by father-son team Takeo and Shintaro Okamoto in 2003, the artist collective has since grown and boasts clients from the event, hospitality, culinary, fashion, and media industries. They produce works that are enjoyed in both private, intimate settings as well as public spaces and their reputation grows with each job. Last year we caught sight of them at Grace Plaza in Midtown where they presented an elegant series of chess-themed ice sculptures.
One member of the studio, Thomas Brown, was on site and shared his story. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Brown came to New York City specifically to build his skills and work with the renowned studio. His first encounter with ice carving happened partly by accident. After years of running his own independent sculpture studio, Brown came across several huge blocks of ice that an ice factory across the street was throwing out. He began playing around with a chainsaw and soon found himself enamoured with the challenge of applying his sculpting skills to a new material. Five years since relocating to New York, Brown continues to learn new skills with each job that Okamoto Studio receives. In terms of live sculpting opportunities such as Fantastical Botanical, Brown explains, “It’s nice to do it in a place where you can actually see it and see people’s reactions.”
Beyond the ice sculpting, there were plenty of other wintery treats to enjoy in the open air. The public received complimentary sweet treats and chai lattes to stay warm as they enjoyed a live performance by Hungry March Band. Keep posted to witness live ice sculpting for yourself as the studio continues to pop-up in unexpected locations across the city to share its skills and transform public spaces into lively gathering points.
All images © Amanda Coen for Inhabitat