Magic Moments… ETC 11x17 watercolor painting
There are moments we cherish, ones that time can not erase. One beautiful moonlit evening under the stars in Matsumoto, Japan - ice sculptors from all over the world gathered to compete in front of the historical castle. The moon was bright and lit up the ice with an otherworldly glow. Chainsaws buzzed with excitement and spectators' cameras flashed as the competition began. It would last all through the night, and with the perfect combination of chill and mountain snow, the finished masterpieces in ice would last long after the competition was over.
I was there sculpting with my partner, Erik T. Cantine. The ice felt as though it were coming alive.
We ended up placing in the competition, winning an award, and were treated to such warm and friendly hospitality by city officials, town locals and all of our fellow ice sculptors that the entire trip to Japan was a magic “chunk” of time.
I painted this painting of Erik for his birthday soon after we returned.
Shortly after that we had our daughter, Mikayla. Erik and I never married - we didn’t stay together either. But all throughout our lives we put our daughter first and remained friends.
A few years ago we learned that Erik had glioblastoma - a terminal brain cancer.
Moments suddenly got intensely special, and over these years I have only learned to love my best friend more.
I spent the last week of his life in hospice with him where I finally had to say goodbye.
He asked me to write his eulogy. I gave it my heart and found this picture that I made to bring to his Celebration of Life ceremony in Ocean City, Maryland:
There’s only one Erik Cantine.
I’ve heard it said about us all. True as it may be some personalities seem to stand out more - make more waves. Their essence touches some part of us that makes them undeniably impactful in everything they do.
As we all gather here today to celebrate such a life of epic proportion, I do believe Erik would want nothing more than for us each to carry on in light of this energy he had. Reaching new pinnacles of humor, pushing the limits of love and waking the reality of just who each and every one of us truly are.
When I met Erik I was at the end of a two month tour of the island of Jamaica. He was carving ice for the anniversary celebration at one of the island's many popular resorts, and I was making the tallo sculpture for the event. Like so many of us, meeting him for the first time took my breath away and I have never been the same since. That smile and his laugh - he made the rest of the world disappear inside the adventure of the very moment we were in.
Erik Cantine - the can do kid from Springdale, Pennsylvania had not only taken my heart by storm but was already well on his way to making his impact on the world around him.
He had a way of making everything look so easy. From his talent as a chef to his passion in ice sculpting Erik was what I would term a “real” celebrity. No one else could promote him as well as his very own personality and impeccable taste for the very best in life. There are people that shop for things that make them look good because of it being the right brand or the status quo… and then there are those that find the most unique piece of every human being they meet and make THAT into their “Gucci”.
This was Erik.
Yes, he was a world renowned ice sculptor, a chef that made your mouth melt in ecstasy even if he had the bare minimum to work with, and could rock the minds of any city planner or executive producer of anything with ideas that even the best of the best would never think of. He will live in the hearts of future generations of Ocean City’s romantics touring the ice festival that will be dedicated in his name. His legacy will inspire the greatest of greats in the restaurants he has been so instrumental in creating from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's “church Brew works to our beloved Spain overlooking the best sunsets over route 50 here in Ocean City Maryland. I think we have all been blown away by this man and what just ONE of us can do in a lifetime. But I’m just not going to reiterate the obvious.
THAT all my friends of Erik, was only the tip of the iceberg.
Because rarely in life do we ever come across someone who has the ability to show us what this life is worth to ourselves.
Erik Thomas Cantine will always live up to his initials. ETC… live life, etcetera- do anything etcetera…. There is ALWAYS more, but we must search for this within ourselves. To bring out the very best is just what he did. He was an amazing father making the most of the experience in life. This was always his priority.
So as we celebrate the life so well lived by a man who only wanted to see the best we could give this world, let us remember his name in all we do.
With one SIMPLE phrase.
LIVE LIFE TO ITS FULLEST… ETC.
Erik lived life to its fullest. Everything he touched came to life. This painting illustrates that perfectly. In celebration of 55 amazing years, influencing so many hearts and making the magic moments come alive, I’d like to offer this limited edition print.