Sculptor's chain saw yields icy art SOUTHEAST--Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

January 21, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Kevin O'Connor, owner of Kevin's Katering in Sykesville, doesn't do all his carving in the kitchen with well-honed knives. He is often out on the sidewalk with a chain saw.

Mr. O'Connor, who set up shop in Sykesville about 10 years ago, satisfies his artistic cravings with a sideline in ice carving. In his outdoor studio -- usually on Main Street and always open to the public -- he regularly transforms 300-pound blocks of ice into chilly masterpieces.

Town residents often see him sawing his way through solid ice, chipping away until he has lovebirds for a wedding reception or a customized centerpiece for a client's special party.

"I start with a 300-pound brick size, a chain saw and some chisels," he said. "About three hours later, I have what I want."

Last Friday, he got a commission for "something urban" in ice from Mike Sullivan at the Baltimore Convention Center.

"Not much time, but no problem," he said.

His medium doesn't allow him to work too far ahead.

The city carvings were to be in keeping with the municipal theme of the Mayors Pre-Inauguration Gala, held at the center Monday.

Mr. O'Connor's creations were destined for two of the many food tables at the ball, which celebrated the nation's urban centers. About 3,000 people, including mayors from 240 cities around the country, attended.

After several hours with his chain saw Monday afternoon, two pristine "something urbans" emerged from the ice at the center.

One block became a huge map of the United States, crowned with several little flags. The glacial states decorated the center's entrance hall.

The other block became the Baltimore skyline, complete with a big "B" logo on a sailboat. It served as the centerpiece on an hors d'oeuvres table, full of local food favorites.

"I was set up and out of there by 5:15 p.m., long before any guests of honor arrived," he said.

No stranger to government commissions, Mr. O'Connor said official gazes and comments on his artistry wouldn't have bothered him.

His sculptures have also added sparkling touches to the presidential dinners of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. The mayors' ball was the closest he has gotten to President Bill Clinton -- so far.

Ice centerpieces are common at elaborate affairs, said Mr. O'Connor, but most are made from molds.

No molds touch O'Connor ice.

He said his creations usually run about $150. This art form, which has a shelf life of about five hours, melts long before it appreciates in value.

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