Hannah Frank and Hannah Ramaker have fun as they do their artwork in the snow.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Hannah Frank and Hannah Ramaker have fun as they do their artwork in the snow. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Kingsland's precipitating high art.

And Jerry Cleveland?

Volunteering refrigerator boxes and saws.

"I have a son who is an art student in college, and it's given me an appreciation for things he's learned and done. Also, art and music are the first things to go when there are budgetary problems, and I like to come up here, I like working with the kids, volunteering," said Cleveland, a resident of Spring Valley. "Now that I don't get paid to work, I do what work I like."

Cleveland was at the high school last week to watch as Linda Wangsness's Kingsland High School ceramics and three-dimensional art classes applied saws and colored water to snow sculptures they built in the west schoolyard as part of their mid-winter art curriculum, a welcome venture outdoors after being cooped up in rooms with air supplied by recirculation units that hum and make imaginations sleepy.

Last year, Cleveland, a recently-retired Spring Valley rural mail carrier, donated wood scraps and window screens to the art department so that students could build works and also learn the historic process of painting screens, a technique that Cleveland noted was founded by a fruit seller in 19th-century Baltimore to provide both ventilation and privacy since the merchant didn't want to leave his wares outside in the sun, but didn't want to share his every move with the neighbors.

The students enjoyed the project, and Cleveland felt satisfied with being able lend a hand to Wangsness's classroom instruction. Given that this winter has been particularly snowy, Wangsness took Cleveland up on an offer to take the students outside to explore something they already knew - how to play in the snow.

The young artists also have Kingsland custodian Gary Zwart to thank, as he brought the school's snowblower out and threw snow at Cleveland, who used a refrigerator box as a deflector. "Mr. Zwart came out with the snowblower, cleared some snow toward the yard, and I held the deflector."

Sculpting officially began last Tuesday morning, and by the time students finished their works Wednesday - on the edge of Thursday's blizzard - they had seven separate sculptures, including a snake, a giraffe, a relief carving of a city and Logan Copeman's Jackson Pollack-esque "painting" he created by spraying snowballs red, blue and green and lobbing them at a wall of snow. The consensus regarding the project was that "it got us out of school...it's something new we don't get to do all the time, and we get to try new things and use new tools."

Oh, and for good measure, they had a snowball fight...or two.