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Giant Snow Rhino Horns in on Fort Greene

By Janet Upadhye | January 23, 2014 11:24am | Updated on January 23, 2014 1:02pm
  A snow rhino appeared outside of Lafayette Grocery & Dairy in Fort Greene on Jan. 22, 2014.
Snow Rhino in Fort Greene
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FORT GREENE — A little piece of Africa showed up in the "polar vortex" of Brooklyn. 

A 3-foot-tall, 5-foot-long rhinoceros sculpture made of snow appeared in front of Lafayette Grocery & Dairy at 133 Lafayette on Tuesday night — causing a stir among admiring locals.

Self-taught local artist Joel Baltazar, who works behind the counter at the deli and pens children's books on the side, took credit for the animal and its snowy predecessor, a snow lion, saying he sculpted them after work.

"I just like to build stuff," shrugged Baltazar, 25, of Bay Ridge, who smiled as passerby took photos of his creation.

Baltazar said it took several hours to build the creature, which held up well under the direct sunlight on Thursday.

He used two purple Welch's grape soda bottlecaps for the eyes, and crafted a pair of cocked-back ears made of cake trays from the deli. His sculpture sits on all fours with two sharp snow horns poking up from its snout.

"A snow creature (#snowrhino!) is back in Fort Greene!," tweeted @CumberlandStBK. "This is a #snowlarvortex miracle."

Baltazar, who hasn't attended art school but wants to, is passionate about sculpture and said he particularly likes making art for children because he "loves to make kids happy." 

The icy rhino is Baltazar's second creation to grace the sidewalk outside of the neighborhood bodega. 

On Jan. 4 a snow lion appeared on the scene. But just a day later the sculpture was decapitated, Baltazar said.

"#Snowcat was beheaded!," wrote @CumberlandStBK. "This is Fort Greene, not the French Revolution, people!"