Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Raising awareness of MS via snow art, plus an idea for Faribault March 11, 2014

IF KURT KLETT CAN CONVINCE city councilors, my community could host an annual snow carving competition in Central Park.

Faribault resident Kurt Klett and his latest snow sculpture, a leprechaun with a pot of gold.

Faribault resident Kurt Klett and his latest snow sculpture, a leprechaun with a pot of gold. Warm temps had partially melted the snow, fading the colors, when I photographed the art late Sunday morning.

That’s the plan, according to this 42-year-old Faribault resident who, for the past five winters, has created snow sculptures in his front yard and this year also entered the St. Paul Winter Carnival snow sculpting contest.

Photographed from Second Street.

Photographed from Second Street.

Given Klett’s enthusiasm and talent and the admiration of locals, his idea certainly could fly. I absolutely support his proposal as a way to bring visitors into Faribault, add a fun, diversionary aspect to an oftentimes long Minnesota winter and promote awareness of Multiple Sclerosis.

Entry fees for the proposed snow sculpting contest would go toward MS, says Klett, diagnosed with the disease of the central nervous system in 1999. The single father of three, ages 6 – 13, suffers from vision and other issues and is currently on disability. He once worked in construction and sales and now works at the Shattuck-St. Mary’s School hockey arena.

His body embraces cold temperatures, Klett says, so he needs to take care not to become overheated while sculpting.

Multiple rubber duckies not sit atop the giant duck graced with a heart and a colored bill.

Klett’s first sculpture of this winter, photographed in late February.

This winter he’s already crafted two snow sculptures in Faribault. The first, a duck, stood completed until two days of 40-degree temps caused the beak to partially fall off.

Klett showed me these photos he took of the two sculptures showing the especially vibrant colors before temps warmed.

Klett showed me these photos he took of the two sculptures with especially vibrant colors before temps warmed.

Undaunted, Klett and a neighbor then “sawed” the remainder of the beak off with a 10-foot chain so he could reshape the duck into a leprechaun holding a pot of gold.

As I’ve observed and as Klett notes, his sculptures are constantly changing, just like the effects of MS. His art, he says, is an ode to MS, a way to raise awareness of the disease.

FIGHT MS is barely visible now on the pot of gold after warm temps began melting the sculpture.

FIGHT MS is barely visible now on the pot of gold after warm temps began melting the sculpture.

FIGHT MS marks the front of the leprechaun’s pot of gold. Klett carved a bull for the St. Paul Winter Carnival snow sculpting contest, dubbing the bull as “Bully the MS Goalie.” Last year he created a stop sign with hockey sticks in his yard, honoring Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding who also has MS.

The leprechaun's pipe is crafted from a crowbar and a raisin container wrapped in hockey tape.

The leprechaun’s pipe is crafted from a crowbar and a raisin container wrapped in hockey tape. This sculpture reaches 12 feet to the top of the hat.

What he crafts from the snow gathered into a huge mound from his and sometimes a neighbor’s yards and even from the roof of his house at 417 Second St. N.W. “depends on what the pile looks like,” this sculptor says.

He’s previously also created a leprechaun on a shamrock, a komodo dragon surrounded by a skyscraper with two hearts, and a T-Rex. Sometimes his kids help choose the art.

This photo montage by Klett shows the process of creating the duck sculpture.

A photo montage by Klett of his 10-foot high duck sculpture.

The process of sculpting this year’s duck and leprechaun took him 14-16 hours each. Depending on the weather, the leprechaun may eventually evolve into a third sculpture. Already warm temps are eroding his leprechaun, fading the colors.

The artist shines a spotlight on his sculptures.

The artist shines a spotlight,left, on his sculptures.

His art draws admiring fans, so much that Klett shines a spotlight on his sculpture at night. As I photographed his leprechaun and chatted with the artist Sunday morning, an older couple stopped. The driver rolled down his car window. “That’s remarkable,” enthused the man. “It’s beautiful.”

I agree. Now imagine Central Park in Faribault graced next winter with such remarkable and beautiful snow art.

FYI: Kurt Klett has not yet approached the Faribault City Council with his request for a snow sculpture contest in Central Park. He is currently raising awareness and gathering support for this project.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Raising awareness of MS via snow art, plus an idea for Faribault”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    That is awesome! I remember you had a picture of the duck before, right??? What a fascinating way to bring awareness to the community He is one talented and amazing guy!

  2. AMAZING!!! There is a gentleman here that “super” lights his house for the Holidays and all the monies donated go to charity. Great Idea and a great way to support the community and be involved within the community. How many of us know our neighbors or even the one neighbor to go to for assistance? The majority of houses here have garages as entrances and not front doors – pretty sad. I miss the Midwest in the kindness, the community, and just being involved as a neighborhood. Great Post!

  3. Jackie Says:

    I cant believe how huge those sculptures are, such a talented man he is. It is indeed a very creative way to bring awareness to MS, I hope he’s able to get the community excited for next winter and a possible sculpture contest. I’m pretty sure I would even come to see that!

  4. hotlyspiced Says:

    These sculptures are so huge! What a big project. The sculptures are gorgeous and would certainly brighten your streetscape xx

  5. Sue Ready Says:

    I have enjoyed all your recent blogs and the amazing amounts of snow still around-everywhere- unbelievable!! I love the creativity of your neighbors-like turning lemons into lemonade.with snow sculptures.

    • Yes, there’s still a lot of snow around, but much has melted in the past few days of warm temps. Today, though, the temp will remain in the 20s.

      I applaud folks like Kurt who can truly embrace winter. I used to do so. Lucky you to escape from the cold and snow.

  6. I like when Minnesotans make the most of the weather. It’s like reclaiming what is otherwise a total drag!!!

    • The older I grow, the less I like winter. I need to adopt a new attitude and embrace it if I’m going to live here, don’t you think? It was easier to like winter when I was younger and when the kids were still home.

  7. Thread crazy Says:

    What fantastic sculptures and with community support I’m sure he can raise much to benefit MS. He’s one talented individual – let’s hope the snow sculptures are over for this season. Even here in Texas we too are ready for spring…

    • Kurt mentioned to me on Sunday that his leprechaun could evolve into yet another sculpture. Temps here this a.m. are in the 20s. But we have had some 40-degree days recently.

      I, too, hope Kurt’s idea for this snow sculpting contest becomes reality.

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