By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
NIAGARA FALLS – It’s amazing what you can do with 3,000 tons of sand.
About 15 of the world’s top sand sculptors have turned the inside of former Niagara Falls Memorial Arena into a remarkable artistic tribute to an integral period in Canadian and American history.
The sand sculptures, dedicated to the bicentennial of the War of 1812, range from four to seven metres high.
The attention to detail and painstaking work is clearly evident in the work, whether it’s the recreation of the U.S. Capitol, the Peace Tower in Ottawa or the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.
In total, there are about 25 sculptures, architectural elements and portraits honouring significant people and events of the war. The background is an event banner covering all the seats.
The International Sand Sculpture Festival of Niagara, scheduled for next month, will be put on by V2 Niagara Inc., the company that bought Memorial Arena from the city in January for $1 million. The company was founded by Niagara Falls resident Valera Revura and his business partner Vladimir Meshkov.
“I think they’ll love it,” said V2 Niagara Inc. spokesman Stas Revura. “You need to see it in person to believe it.”
Stas Revura said close friends and relatives who were given a sneak preview are amazed at how the artists were able to craft blocks of sand into various War of 1812-themed sculptures using just water and some small tools.
Once sand was formed into layers and held together by wood frames, the artists started sculpting from the top. The process did not require any additional framework or fixers.
Stas Revura said the exhibition should open in September.
V2 Niagara Inc. hired Deviale Holding Ltd. to manage the project.
Dmitry Veremeev, executive director for Deviale, has been working with sand for years and said he brought several of his own ideas to the project.
He said the sculptors had extensive experience and are some of the best in the world.
“It has to be a special sand, not just beach sand,” said Veremeev, who is also an executive manager with V2 Niagara Inc. “There was a lot of planning, a lot of research.
“We want people to leave with a knowledge of the war and how it shaped Canada and the United States. I think the many sand sculptures will do that.”
Veremeev said they haven’t come up with a cost to visit the exhibition, but noted there could be special rates for seniors and students.
V2 Niagara Inc. spent the past couple months repainting the outside of the 62-year-old arena building and fixing the leaking roof. They have also redone interior amenities, including the washrooms and floors and are currently remodelling the front entrance.
The exhibition is expected to remain open to the public during the whole period of the bicentennial festivities.
Stas Revura said a big projector screen will be set up inside the arena to show a “making of” video for visitors to watch and get a better understanding of the work that went into the sand project.
V2 Niagara Inc. officials said a stage will be set up for musical and theatrical performances. During the course of the exhibition, entertainment and shows will be arranged, including those for charitable purposes.
Stas Revura said the company plans to put on similar shows in the future.
“We want to involve the public as much as we can,” he said. “There’s a lot we can do with this property.”
15: Professional sculptors from around the world;
25: Sculptures commemorating War of 1812;
3,000: tons of sand;
4-7 metres: Height range of the sculptures
62: Age of Niagara Falls Memorial Arena;
V2 Niagara Inc. “Making of” video: