Downtown Lexington's 'New Moon' light bulb sculpture can spin once again

rcopley@herald-leader.comFebruary 24, 2014 

The artists behind the newly installed light bulb sculpture New Moon, in downtown Lexington's Triangle Park, had the interactive piece spinning as intended Monday night after several hours of repair work.

Calgary, Alberta, artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett's luminescent, moonlike sphere — made of used light bulbs and encased in a steel cage — was unveiled Friday evening. It's the signature piece in Luminosity, the Lexington Art League's exhibition of light-based art.

New Moon lit up during the unveiling, but its ability to be turned to replicate the phases of the moon was short-lived.

The interactive portion of New Moon — the latest of the artists' interactive light bulb art pieces that have fascinated audiences worldwide — is a turnstile under the sphere. It's designed to rotate an aluminum plate inside the globe to redirect the light coming from its center.

Not long after New Moon was unveiled Friday, the turning mechanism's segmented drive shaft snapped when some children tried to turn it quickly.

The moon has remained lit, but instead of rotating, its light shone over the weekend only toward Broadway and the Hilton Lexington/Downtown hotel.

"We've been told that when you make interactive art, it should be able to withstand a 5-year-old with a hammer," Brown said Monday. "I guess this demonstrates that."

Garrett said that when making the drive shaft — which runs through the "birdcage" in which the sphere is suspended — "we probably cut it a little thin."

On Monday afternoon, he and Brown worked with the welding department at Bluegrass Community and Technical College to reconnect the shaft.

"It should be able to withstand abuse from children of all ages," Garrett said.

The sculpture was built with the drive shaft going through the cage, as opposed to a simple shaft traveling from the turnstile up to the moon. Brown said that was "to maintain the illusion of suspension, and that you are magically turning it with the turnstile. It wouldn't look very suspended if there was a shaft running up to it."

Primary concerns expressed with New Moon were for the globe's light bulb exterior and its potential vulnerability to spring storms. The sculpture was installed Thursday night, when strong storms came through Lexington.

"New Moon is scheduled to remain in Triangle Park, at Main Street and South Broadway, through March 29.

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes. Blog: Copiousnotes.bloginky.com.

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