Fayette County

Bur oak falls on art project under construction at Loudoun House

Salvaged pieces were organized after a bur oak fell on an artwork in progress, Nexus: Toward New Land Art, at Loudoun House. Artist Matt Burke said he will alter his original design to fit the change in the landscape.
Salvaged pieces were organized after a bur oak fell on an artwork in progress, Nexus: Toward New Land Art, at Loudoun House. Artist Matt Burke said he will alter his original design to fit the change in the landscape.

Mother Nature waits on nothing, apparently even public art.

A large bur oak tree was toppled by a wind gust at the Lexington Art League's Loudoun House on Friday afternoon, smashing part of a 70-foot outdoor sculpture that was being built next to the tree.

Several people had been working under the tree only a few minutes earlier, helping to assemble the sculpture. They left for a lunch break just before the tree came down, said Amber Scott, the art league's media coordinator. No one was hurt.

The tree, thought to have been 150 to 200 years old, fell about 1:45 p.m., after its partially rotted trunk snapped.

Art league officials reported hearing a gust of wind, a brief moment of rain, and then the sound of the tree breaking. They said, however, that the storm didn't seem to be particularly strong.

"I've never had anything like this happen before," said Matt Burke, the Kansas-based artist who designed the sculpture for the art league and was supervising the installation, which began earlier this week. "We went to lunch, came back in half an hour, and the whole thing was down."

Burke's sculpture, Nexus: Toward New Land Art, was being made from thin strips of wood woven together to build up spheres and tube-like structures. One of the tubes was crushed by the falling tree.

Scott said the sculpture was inspired, coincidentally, by the old bur oak.

Burke said the art project will go on, although completion might be delayed until October.

Burke said he will alter his original design, perhaps incorporating some wood from the fallen tree, and then he'll finish the piece.

"I originally wanted to have part of the piece line up with a damaged spot on the tree," he said. "I wanted to communicate about the tree being old. But I guess it was really telling us it was ready to go."

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