The man behind Brilliant Ice Sculpture in Lawrence has been spending the last few days carving his 25,000-ton ice sculptures for First Night Boston. He just hopes revelers will get a chance to appreciate them before they turn to puddles.
This year, Chapelle, who has drawn inspiration from Africa, Russia and the North Pole in the past, is creating a tribute to the shellfish industry. A sculpture of oyster men at work is slated to adorn Boston Common and a giant penguin is being readied for the New England Aquarium.
This is Chapelle's 21st year working with giant blocks of ice. He usually spends New Year's Eve busy with last-minute touches, if not soaking his sore muscles in a tub.
"It's tremendously hard work," said Chapelle, who's been carving sections of the sculptures for weeks at his studio in Lawrence and another facility in Gloucester. "We learn every year, and every year, we get a little smarter."
Chapelle said he returns to First Night in Boston year after year because it's fun.
"You are given a blank canvas and told to do whatever you want, (just) keep it family-friendly and fun," he said.
The First Night Boston celebration is the country's oldest and largest New Year's arts celebration. Founded in 1976, it was started by a group of artists who sought an alternative to traditional New Year's Eve revelry.
Now in its 31st year, First Night Boston has grown from attracting about 25,000 people to drawing crowds of more than a million for the daylong festival of art, music, dance, ice sculpture, fireworks and more. The concept has served as a model for more than 200 similar celebrations worldwide.
First Night Boston highlights
First Night 2007 runs from 1 p.m. to midnight on Sunday, and will feature more than 1,000 artists in 250 exhibitions and performances at 40-plus locations in downtown Boston. Here are some of the highlights:
The Holmes Brothers at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave., at 8:45 and 9:45 p.m.: Since joining forces in 1979, the Holmes Brothers have been bringing their brand of gospel-inflected, spiritually moving, funky music to audiences around the world. Their harmonies resonate with passion and conviction as they perform sanctified gospel, low-down roadhouse blues, deep soul, barroom country and pure pop - all in one set.
Flexitoons, Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., at 2 and 3:15 p.m.: The Flexitoons puppets, perhaps best known for their work on "Thomas the Tank Engine with Ringo Starr and George Carlin," create a highly imaginative world of puppets, marionettes, shadows, sets and blacklight magic. They will present a new adaptation of "Hamlin," the classic truth-telling tale.
Carolina Chocolate Drops at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St.. at 9 and 10:15 p.m.: This group of young African-American string band musicians have come together to play Carolina Piedmont fiddle and banjo music. They carry on the tradition of black musicians like Odell and Nate Thompson, Dink Roberts, John Snipes, Libba Cotton, Emp White and others.
Mary Gauthier and John Doe at the Orpheum Theater 23 East St., at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.: Country-noir singer/songwriter and native Louisianian Mary Gauthier (pronounced go-SHAY) performs dark, mature, weather-beaten songs that tell tales of longing and redemption, steeped in Southern Gothic imagery. As one of the founding members of the Los Angeles band X, John Doe has been influential in American alternative rock. His solo career, launched in the early '90s, marked a departure from X's fierce but tuneful punk rock as he explored more rootsy country elements.
Grigory Goryachev at First Church, 66 Marlborough St., at 6 and 6:45 p.m.: Russian-born Dorchester classical guitarist Goryachev has been regarded for his blinding virtuosity and extraordinary musical sensitivity. As a master of both flamenco and classical styles, he has created a new genre all his own.
Pat Olezsko's "The Fool Emporium: A Snide Slide Show" at the Park Plaza Castle, 64 Arlington St., at 1 and 7 p.m.: Noted visual artist Pat Oleszko creates an art installation worth seeing.
Tony V. and Frank Santorelli at the Park Plaza Castle, 64 Arlington St., at 9, 10 and 11 p.m.: Two Boston comedy veterans ring in the New Year with laughter. Tony V., a star of stage, screen and neighborhood bar, is now a big TV star with a role as a conflicted cop on Showtime's "Brotherhood." You may recognize Santorelli as Georgie, the bartender at the Bada-Bing on HBO's "The Sopranos," but he's still a big man on the Boston Comedy circuit.
In addition, First Night includes the annual Grand Procession beginning at 5 p.m. on Boylston Street from the Hynes Convention Center and midnight fireworks over Boston Harbor.
All outdoor events are free, with the First Night button serving as the ticket for admission to all indoor events. Buttons are $15 (children under 4 are free) and are available at Boston-area Shaw's and Star Markets, Store 24, L'il Peach, Tedeschi's, Au Bon Pain and dozens of other locations.
For more, visit www.firstnight.org.