The snow is back, but the ice isn't what it needs to be.
Art Shanty Projects — the annual artist-driven outdoor winter art experience that takes place on a frozen lake — has been moved from Lake Harriet to the bandshell and the surrounding park area because of deteriorating ice.
Artistic Director Erin Lavelle and the team have been monitoring ice conditions and made the official call to abandon ship for land earlier this week. Even though the 13 inches of ice on Lake Harriet was ideal, the snow accumulation after last week's storm greatly affected plans.
"We were feeling really confident, and then that three-day storm hit," Lavelle said. "We were concerned but not gravely concerned because it had been so cold and we had so much ice, but as the storm went on the temperatures warmed and the snow on top of the ice acted as a cozy blanket."
A thick cover of snow will actually insulate the ice and then cause it to melt and turn to slush — which is not ideal for an on-ice event hosting 30,000 people. The extended forecast indicated that the Lake Harriet ice could be reduced to below 10 inches and that would be insufficient for the Art Shanty Projects.
While none of the 18 shanties specifically will be affected, one of the more than 20 performances has been impacted. The American Ice Theater performance was supposed to take place on a rink of ice, but that's not possible. It may be moved to a pop-up site that isn't on the lake.
Shanties that involve ice, such as the Ice Garden, can still use lake water to make the shanty — as long as it's cold enough for the water to freeze.
This is only the second time in Art Shanty Projects' 19-year history that the art shanties had to be moved on land. The last time Art Shanty had to leave the ice was in 2017, but it was a reverse scenario according to Lavelle, who was a shanty artist back then.
"We installed on the lake on time and everything was fine, and then during the program it was getting up into the 40s and 50s," she said. "It was a situation where it wasn't safe to stay on the ice, so we had to evacuate."
Lavelle sounded upbeat about Plan Beach, a play on "Plan B."
"We'll probably do some messaging about 'Come to our beach party' kind of stuff, but it's not really on a beach," she said. "It's in the park along the shore of the lake."
Despite the move to land, Art Shanty Projects will still open on Jan. 21 and run weekends 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through Feb. 12.