UW-Stout News Story

Cold, ice bring out the best in alumnus' bronze sculptures

November 11, 2013

Some people may not be happy that freezing temperatures have moved into Wisconsin, with winter not far behind. David Aschenbrenner, however, couldn’t be happier.

Aschenbrenner, a 1989 UW-Stout graduate in art, loves the cold if for no other reason than it brings ice, and ice is his inspiration.

He makes bronze sculptures out of ice formations using the lost-wax method, a many-stepped process that involves pouring liquid metal into a mold. The ancient process dates back to 3500 B.C. and is labor intensive but worth it, Aschenbrener said.

David Aschenbrenner works on one of his sculptures.Aschenbrenner can give forms as transient as melting ice a permanent home in bronze. "The possibilities are as endless as my imagination," he said.

A native of Shawano, in northeastern Wisconsin, Aschenbrener has a studio in nearby Greshman. He makes sculptures from natural ice formations — icicles, ice sheets pulled from the frozen lakes and chunks from an ice dam near his house.

He climbs on the dam and harvests ice formations on cold days. "It's very dangerous and exciting in its stillness," he said.

Some of his work will be on display through Jan. 11 at Instinct Gallery, 940 Nicollet Ave. Mall, in downtown Minneapolis. He is one of nine artists who will be featured in the exhibit "God's Sketchbook for Creation," which opened Saturday, Nov. 9.

In 2007 he went into business with a partner and formed Aschenbrener Bronze. He has exhibited in galleries in Chicago, Utah, Arizona, Oregon and Mexico.

While at UW-Stout Aschenbrener discovered his skill and love for sculpture through the encouragement and inspiration of a professor, Alan Gamache, and a German exchange instructor.

Aschenbrener first sculpted in cement and then with Gamache when he did his first pour at a local foundry. "I knew in my heart that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," Aschenbrener said.

The idea of ice sculpting also came to him while at UW-Stout, although he was told at the time it couldn't be done. Working with ice is ever evolving and transcending, he said. "I want this work to live on and inspire others long after the ice has melted and I am gone from this Earth."


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