Snow art will spiral through Rabbit Ears Pass this weekend

This Saturday, on a sprawling, snowy hay meadow at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass, community volunteers will create an enormous, landscape-scale work of art using just their snowshoe-clad feet. Each person will walk an individual path within the collective space to create giant snow drawing encompassing this year’s theme, “Spiraling out of COVID.”

Community snow drawings in the Yampa Valley began as a collaboration with environmental artist Sonja Hinrichsen when, in 2010, she came to Steamboat Springs via a Colorado Art Ranch residency at The Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch. She returned the following winter to create another solo installation, and, when she realized that the valley offered many canvases for winter installations, she decided to involve the entire community.

In 2012, she returned once again to lead a community snow drawing project in collaboration with the Bud Werner Memorial Library and The Nature Conservancy. That series received both national and international attention. In the past decade, the community drawings have been done on frozen lakes, public lands and working hay meadows by more than 350 volunteers from the Yampa Valley community.

Betsy Blakeslee has participated in the community project for the past decade. She remembers years when the volunteers were up to their thighs in snow, but, she pointed out, they always persevered. While past years have had different themes, Blakeslee thinks that this year’s theme of spirals — a nod to their first community theme in 2012 — will work well.

“It’s very meditative and it’s a cool design where you can get lost in your own space and you don’t have to think a lot,” Blakeselee said. “It’s kind of like walking meditation.”

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