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Return of the portal: Ice and metal sculpture, banished by city officials, gets a new home

20February 2021

The beloved ice portal has returned.

St. Paul residents earlier this month were captivated by an ice and metal sculpture that loomed over a Summit Avenue median after mysteriously appearing like some kind of sci-fi monolith.

The construct, consisting of ice blocks suspended via metal cables from a sturdy metal frame, was the work of St. Paul resident who said he didn’t want to be named because he sought to have his art get all the attention.

It certainly got on the radar of St. Paul city workers, who deemed the structure potentially unsafe and tore it down, delivering the fragments to its chagrined creator.

The artist soon fielded offers for alternate locations that wouldn’t run afoul of municipal ordinances. He decided on the front yard of a residence at 1218 Summit Avenue, with the homeowner’s blessing.

That location, perhaps not coincidentally, is directly across Summit’s eastbound lane from the artwork’s original spot.

The artist’s team, including his wife, spent Friday night prepping the components in their  back yard and garage, and then loading them into their minivan for painstaking assembly at the display space.

The artwork has a new design. Originally arrayed as a gateway that people could walk through, the structure later morphed into a Valentine’s Day tribute with the ice blocks arranged as a gigantic heart.

Now, it again has a portal configuration. And, for the first time, it is illuminated from below for dramatic nighttime viewing.

The structure will surely draw crowds until early next week, when warming temperatures will cause the ice blocks to melt away — exactly as the artist intends.

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