FAHRENHEIT LAKE GENEVA
Visit Lake Geneva lost Ed Svitak over disagreements among the resorts, merchants and the board of directors. Ed’s absence is noted in what has happened here since. Ed would have done something, other than having phone calls made to this supposed grand center of public relations that go to voicemail, about the fact that the Minnesota snow carving team was turned away this year because their art was deemed to be politically incorrect. Ed would have headed this potential public relations disaster off at the pass.
That’s right, “Fahrenheit 451” seemed to go down right here in little old Lake Geneva. Last year that same rejected sculpting team took the snow sculpting competition to international levels of notice and advertisement by making their snow sculpture appear to be a caricature of President Donald Trump. They hoped to repeat that success this, year but had to submit a plan for the work prior to actually being accepted by the U.S. National snow sculpting competition people, whomever actually sits on that board. Their first entry this year was denied because it repeated a caricature of Trump similar to the one used the prior year in a different form. They were denied entry. They submitted a second entry, a gentler form of the caricature. They were denied a second time, and then another team was selected to replace them.
Those artists of such success last year, and laid to waste this year, are named Dusty Thune, Kelly Thune, and David Aichinger. The CEO of the company that puts on the Snow Carving Championship event was interviewed, and he was very cogent and clear about the kind of censorship he felt was necessary to allow sponsored art to be presented to the general public. Fred (the CEO), indicated that the snow sculpting events are intended to appeal to families, and therefore family values must be ascribed to. According to Fred, the board of his organization looks at advance sketches submitted long before the actual figures are carved. The sketches must be approved. Last year, the Minnesota team submitted sketches, but then made something different than what the sketches showed. That they were allowed back, after what became a nationally covered Trump debacle (the offending snow carving was not a nice caricature of President Trump). There are issues of freedom of speech and artistic expression involved whenever art is to be publicly shown, but there is also a long tradition of those organizations and individuals paying for the art to have some control over the artistic expression (or they don’t pay for the art at all). The National Snow Carving Championship is intended to be a family event, where children of all ages and people of all political followings, not to mention religion, gather to admire the work so many teams come in from around the nation to produce.
That the Minnesota team, which didn’t follow the rules the year before, was allowed to resubmit this year says something about the sensitivity that the management of the event demonstrated in being so liberal. Two submissions were submitted, but both were rejected as being too extreme or too political. A third was solicited from the team, but the team at that point chose to bow out. The team took their “rejection” to the national media and the national media picked up the story (API and NPR). For the most part, the national media treated the rejection of the Minnesota team as an offense against artistic expression. That impression was not exactly correct, given the facts in the case. The snow carving championship company has signed a five-year contract to return to Lake Geneva to continue the tradition that’s become so important to the community. It is hoped that they will also continue to assure that the event allows the portrayal of family-oriented art, even if that limiting eats a bit into what we all call the freedom of artistic expression.