Paul Wertin's "Arches" turns Vail into a wonderland of light and ice tonight

Molly Eppard
A tribute to ice, snow and light, Paul Wertin's temporary sculpture "Arches" opens tonight at the seventh annual Triumph Winterfest in Vail, when it will be illuminated with LED lights at dusk. Wertin began carving the icy structure from 120 blocks of ice earlier this month, creating a seventy-foot long serpentine ice wall that reaches seven feet in height in some places and is graced with three arches.

See also: Chill! Breckenridge opens ice castle

Molly Eppard
"There are three arches -- I grew up surfing in California and there was an arch rock near the spot where I went to surf and I went to it all the time," says Wertin of his inspiration. "We were trying to do a flowing, running wall -- inspired by Christo's 'Running Fence' -- and the thought process was around making something that was taking up some space and moving down the line and kind of flowing down the hill."

The illumination, too, is a key element of the sculpture's finished look. With LED lights running through the wall and arches and some parts controlled remotely, the structure will become a full-on production once lit. "The wall sort of turns into a bit of a canvas for a light show," says Wertin. "As you shine light up through the bottom of the ice, it really carries and diffuses into a nice glow."

"Arches" is the second installation of the winter season for Vail's annual Triumph Winterfest; it was preceded by "Logan Luminescence," a piece by Thomas Barlow made of seventy cylindrical ice lanterns in varying sizes that opened last month. Both of these projects are supported by Vail's Art in Public Places, a program that works in conjunction with funding from development company Triumph Partners as well as a major donation from part-time Vail residents Vicki and Kent Logan.

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