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February’s stretch of near-subzero temperatures was a welcome sight for Art Below Zero, especially following months, and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth, of business lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The whole year got completely canceled with no gatherings,” said Max Zuleta, master carver and co-owner of Art Below Zero.
Since 2004, the Franksville-based ice sculpting company has built a reputation for its elaborate 20-ton ice bars and life-size ice creations, which are custom made for weddings, corporate events, holiday parties and outdoor winter festivals throughout the region and across the country.
Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 earlier this year came through with a sizable order: a series of three winter- and Valentine’s Day-themed sculptures, created from 24 ice blocks, weighing 3.6 tons. Displayed at three high-traffic spots along North Water Street and in the Historic Third Ward, the installation was a COVID-safe winter attraction for locals and visitors alike.
“Ice sculptures are an excellent way for cities to raise the morale of people,” said Zuleta. “It’s been very rewarding when we’re downtown and we see people looking at the sculptures and leaving their car to take a photo. They jump right back in (their cars on cold days) but there are still lots of people driving around and enjoying the sculptures.”