Braking For Snowbama

David Sepulveda PhotoEven before its completion, “Snowbama,” my latest snow-day creation, began to stop traffic. Motorists exited their vehicles to snap pictures, fodder for their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“Is that Obama?” one driver asked as the work began to take form..

“No, it’s Snowbama!” I yelled back, wondering if my caricature of the president, whom I’ve always supported as a voter, would ever achieve a respectable artistic likeness.

Public pressure from friends on social media for me to “do it again” was growing. Neighbors had recalled the “Snow-asaurus” (pictured) snow sculpture I created three years earlier after a storm dumped nearly two feet of snow on the area.

That polychrome creature, a hybridized concoction of dinosaur and dragon, was soon followed by an offer to create a giant Blue Whale, mascot for the Hartford Whalers. Though enormous by snow sculpture standards, the hockey-stick-wielding creature was dwarfed against the rising wall of Hartford’s Rentschler Field Stadium, where a special “Whale Bowl” hockey festival was underway.

An entrenched cycle of snowstorms this winter brought with it dreams of more snow days and painted snow sculptures. It had been several years since the Snow-asaurus had enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame; the monumental whale sculpture had provided physical challenges that even included a little frost nip about the toes.

Recent storms had produced modest amounts of dry, powdery snow of poor sculpting consistency. Then back-to-back storms this week deposited the good stuff—the heavy, wet snow that doctors warn us about, but is perfect for snowballs, snow forts, snow sculptures and snow hearts.

Gina LaRoche PhotoLegends, even those local, modest ones like “Snow-asaurus,” are hard to live up to. It wasn’t until I actually started to pile the snow high, that my confidence and sense of play returned. President Obama, who was on my short-list of ideas for a sculpture, seemed doable, though not guaranteed. After shoveling the walkways and driveway it was a race against time to complete the sculpture. I wondered if there would be enough hours of daylight to finish the seven foot-plus project and apply paint. Fortunately, a few of those same friends who had been prodding me on social media showed up to help with the last touches of color.

David Sepulveda PhotoAfter one day of light melting, the top-heavy Snowbama lilted sideways, his hair had gotten distinctly more gray.  A smiling neighbor who had come to take a picture offered, “I think he needs Michelle; I hear there’s more snow coming Sunday.”

Contributed Photo

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posted by: ELMCITYPROF on February 7, 2014  10:17am

What street is this on? Would love to bring my kids by to see this. We voted for Romney but can appreciate great art!

[Ed: West Rock Avenue between Yale Avenue and West Elm Street.]

posted by: Mike Slattery on February 7, 2014  10:57am

The extra dusting of snow suits him in his second term with salt and pepper hair.  Nice job!

posted by: Semi Semi-Dikoko on February 7, 2014  11:20am

It has become a tradition, The Neighbors in this part of Westville, (and all around), almost expect it! A spectacular snow sculpture by New Haven very own David Sepulveda! Sculptor, painter, landscaper, (correct that & make that: ZenScaper), but foremost, Art Teacher! The day job he loves and has cherished for the last 30+ years.

This year he brings us snOwBama! A tribute to the President he supported. We are fortunate to have folks like David among us.

posted by: LorcaNotOrca on February 7, 2014  11:32am

I live in Edgewood, and one of my housemates makes snow sculptures on our lawn every time it snows. Simple things, but sometimes heads/faces. There’s something about it that’s so instantly uplifting/funny/positive, and people who walk by always get a chuckle.

Snow sculpture should become a regular thing. Imagine an entire block or neighborhood filled with snow creations! It’d be like Edward Scissorhands…. but with snow.

posted by: HewNaven on February 7, 2014  11:44am

In light of the community conversation regarding racial insensitivity (i.e. NHPD incidents), how smart is it to create gigantic caricature of a black man? Don’t tell me its life-like. It looks like a cartoon. If I had to walk past that every day I would be offended.

posted by: Semi Semi-Dikoko on February 7, 2014  12:02pm

@ HewNaven, This form of art is called a “caricature”! A friendly caricature which happen to be good art. The challenge with this one is that it is not a mere crayon on paper drawing, but instead, a super sized seven feet tall head sculpture made of snow. If you’ve ever try making a snowman you can appreciate the level of difficulty and agree that it is not the easiest material for sculpting!  Do not expect the same standard of quality, and accuracy in the depiction as seen on Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This is two full days of labor from a gifted artist who happens to be a supporter who actually has met the president of the United States.

Always enjoy Art my friend. This one, snOwBAMA is temporary and I hope so is your weariness.

posted by: pwpwpw on February 7, 2014  1:08pm

Love the sculpture! It’s so much fun to see what David will come up with next! Our whole neighborhood enjoys his creations! To HewNaven: I am a huge Obama supporter and I think you are totally wrong. You need to look up the word “caricature”. It’s an art form that has nothing to do with race. I think it’s you who has the problem. Would you be complaining if it were a sculpture of a white person? Lighten up and have some fun in the snow!!

posted by: HewNaven on February 7, 2014  1:43pm

I do agree it’s hard to make a snow sculpture and I do think he’s a great artist! I also believe he had the best intentions in creating this sculpture. But, in light of how hard it is to make a snow sculpture appear realistic, I would have chosen a less-serious subject. It looks too cartoonish for a President.

posted by: Trustme on February 7, 2014  1:48pm

That’s so cool and creative, but of course in this city will always be a few malcontents who always have something negative to say. I don’t understand, how can someone look at this cool artistic creation and be offended.

posted by: Shaggybob on February 7, 2014  2:06pm

Awesome- I wish more people would do snow sculptures and add some variety to our dull, colorless, winter landscape (lol)
@HewNaven Its art- You really need to lighten up and get a sense of humor- it will help relieve stress and add years onto your life. If you can’t laugh at life then whats the point.
Besides its only art-and like free speech if you don’t like it then don’t listen or look. Your entitled to your opinion, but Mom always said “if you can’t say something nice….....”

posted by: smccaslin on February 7, 2014  3:20pm

Always enjoy David’s snow sculptures and this one too. I will be by so I can get a selfie with my President! Can’t wait for the next big storm to see who he adds to his repertoire! And you inspire me to get out into the snow - next storm!

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on February 7, 2014  5:14pm

Hooray for SnowBama!

We do bread sculpture at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, and a couple of years back we made a DoughBama.

: )

posted by: Lori on February 7, 2014  5:32pm

HewHaven missed the boat here.  Too bad you can’t just enjoy the ART. This sculpture is wonderful, fun and brightens up a dreary snow day.  Lets celebrate the people who take the time to share their talents with us.  Thanks, David!

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on February 7, 2014  8:41pm

As an African American supporter of President Barack Obama and a friend of the creator of Snowbama, I find nothing at all racially offensive or insensitive about this man’s tribute to the President. I would be proud to have this artistic tribute in my neighborhood.
This entire creation was just a fun thing for the artist and his assistants to create. It was never meant to be an exact likeness of the President, but a symbol of his essence.
I feel sorry for people like HewHaven. He is joyless and clueless and heartless.
I hope the President gets to see a photograph of Snowbama. Unlike HewHaven, Barack Obama has a sense of humor and would thoroughly enjoy this image of himself and the creativity,labor and love that went into its completion.

posted by: A. Thought on February 7, 2014  11:12pm

New Haven -  This is a wonderful snow sculpture of a famous person created by a very talented artist.  It didn’t even begin to cross my mind that it might be in any way racially offensive.  As a result,  I was quite taken aback at your suggestion that this might be the case.  It was a relief to see that when challenged, you acknowledged, in your second submission, that David is a “great artist” who made his creation with “the best intentions.”  That’s exactly what it was and how it should be perceived - as a great artist making a snow creation with the best of intentions.