"There’s so much hype about Eau Claire and the creative community. And the hype is real, too. People do take chances here."

For the third year straight, Eau Claire-based artist, Jason Anhorn, will embrace the cold by debuting a custom-made ice sculpture at the Light Up Eau Claire New Year’s Eve Celebration. In line with this year’s Lismore Lantern Parade theme, Dragon of the North, Anhorn will sculpt an ice dragon that will be nearly eight-feet tall. The sculpture will be located at the corner of Eau Claire St. and Barstow St. It will make its debut on Monday, December 31 at 5 p.m.

We sat down with Anhorn to ask him about life as an artist in Eau Claire, his visions for Eau Claire’s future as a creative city and, naturally, ice.

For how long have you been doing ice-sculpting as a medium?

I suppose about five years for ice sculpting, but snow sculpting about 15 or 20 years. Everyone always asks, “do you have a freezer that you work in?” I’m like, “Nope, just outside. It’s Wisconsin in the winter.”

What lessons have you learned from the past few years of ice-sculpting projects?

The number one lesson: it’s dangerous. So, safety first. It’s so heavy – one ice block is 300 pounds and I just picked up 3600 pounds yesterday.

What do you like most about working with ice as a medium?

With ice it’s fun because it’s almost like butter in a way when I’m carving it.

What are you most excited about for this year’s ice sculpture? 

I’d say just the sheer size of it. Instead of one little ice block it’s something much bigger than I’ve created in the past.

There are beautiful natural resources everywhere, so what is it about the natural resources here that inspire people in such meaningful ways?

I work with the public all of the time, drawing caricatures at events and whatnot, so when I’m not working I want to go somewhere away from people, and you can do that easily in Eau Claire. You can leave the city in five minutes and be somewhere private. It’s like being in a big city but yet you can leave immediately. I’m able to be more creative here because of that juxtaposition.

What is it that you find most intriguing about Eau Claire?

It has its own quirks and that’s what I like about it. There’s a community of artists and musicians, creative people and business owners. I love living here because the vibe is good, it’s pretty chill.

Do people take chances here?

Yeah, I’d say so because there’s so much hype about Eau Claire and the creative community. And the hype is real, too. People do take chances here.

What do you want the Eau Claire arts scene look like 10 years from now?

I think the arts scene here is perfect the way it is, the only thing different would be more people hiring artists. We need more murals. Within ten years, I’d like to see murals all over the city. Even if you’re not an artist, you’re not going to be mad about artwork all over the place. And not just downtown, all over the different parts of the city, too.