Monday, January 5, 2009
I interviewed a snow man today
I don't post all my news stories, but this man was an interesting artist to interview so here are a couple of pictures and my story for the paper.
“Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”
Jerry Gardner is a famous local artist. His sculptures have been seen on not just the Utah TV stations but even the national news. In front of his house at 476 S. Canyon Drive in Springville you can view his works of art. But you’ll have to hurry - they melt! When it snows we groan and wait for the plow but Jerry happily grabs his shovel. He spends up to twenty hours creating a whimsical snow sculpture based on a cartoon style character using material provided by Mother Nature, and lots of environmentally friendly paint.
“Snow is a clean canvass,” he says while explaining his inspiration. Why does he do it? “It’s an opportunity to express my artistic talents and it gives adults and children something to look forward to in the long cold months of winter.” After choosing a subject to sculpt, Jerry begins by packing the mounds of soft snow. Using just a shovel and his gloved hands, he forms the large figures and then applies the special paint. Since the snow has to be the right consistency and the H2O paint will cost almost $120 for each sculpture, he can only do about ten a year. As one begins to melt beside the road, another design is forming in Jerry’s imagination.
One of his heartwarming snow sculptures was created to cheer up an ill veterinarian. Using lots of fanciful cats, the huge outdoor get-well card was better than flowers for this doctor. Other businesses and private homes have hired Jerry to place his temporary winter art work where neighbors and friends will smile as they pass by. In the summertime, we can see some of Jerry’s more permanent murals on the Springville La Casita restaurant and at Gardner Village in Salt Lake. Since Gardner Village is built on the mill site of Archibald Gardner, his great, great-grandfather, this was a labor of love. I’m sure Archibald also has a smile on his face as he watches the many visitors to his old silo, now a popular restaurant, enjoy Gardner’s history mural.
Art is only one of Jerry’s passions. He is an avid collector of mine memorabilia. With his partner, Jeff Pollock, he explores mines all over Utah. “I’ve been going underground most of my life,” he says. “Many people don’t realize that mining and mineral wealth is an important part of our Utah history.” He and Jeff hope to open a mining museum someday with their collection from more than 2,000 mine sites. With US Gas and Mining Company covering the mines for safety reasons, time is running out on these archeological sites, according to Jerry. Using his artistic skills Jerry showcases some of his many mining artifacts. At the corner of his property he always has an interesting “street light”. Last year it was an antique truck, and this year it is a jeep.
Jerry has been an artist since attending Provo High School more than 30 years ago. He continued his studies at BYU and UVSC where his interest in painting took an interesting turn. “I got into custom body work and did specialized work on Maseratis, Rolls Royces and later even helicopters,” he said. His professional airbrush skills are now applied to snow sculptures that bring smiles to passing motorists that travel along Canyon Road. We agree with Jerry: “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”