UPDATE, 10 p.m. March 11: Driving home, I saw Shawn Gannon was working on New Moon, and it had been returned to its original brightness.
Add damaging the Lexington Art League‘s New Moon sculpture to Mother Nature’s rap sheet of closings, accidents and power outages in the Winter of 2014. The art work at the corner of Main Street and Broadway suffered electrical damage in last week’s winter storm, and it will be only partially repaired before its exhibit ends March 29.
New Moon, by Calgary-based artists Wayne Garrett and Caitlind r.c. Brown, is a 20-foot sculpture of steel and used light bulbs that stands at the corner of Main Street and Broadway where the Lexington city Christmas tree is displayed during the holidays. It is the centerpiece of Luminosity, the League’s exhibit of light-based art that includes indoor pieces at its home base in the Loudoun House.
The outdoor sculpture was designed to shine brightly on one side with users able to turn the light grid on a disc inside the sculpture, using a turnstile at the work’s base, to simulate phases of the moon.
But since last week, the steel and recycled light bulb display has been sitting still with its white light diminished to a pale pinkish-orange.
According the Art League, the sculpture was damaged in last week’s winter storms that packed a punch of rain, snow, ice and temperatures in the single digits. That combo was enough, the Art League said, to damage electrical mechanisms that controlled the lights inside the sculpture and the mechanism that turns the reflective disc.
A statement from the Art League said Brown and Garrett, “studied Kentucky weather patterns and vetted the sculpture with professional engineers; the damage to the interior electrical components of the sculpture was due to extreme weather and could not have been anticipated.”
This is New Moon’s second major break. It’s first came minutes after it was unveiled at Triangle Park on Feb. 21. A group of children turned the turnstile extremely fast, snapping the mechanism that turned the light disc. That was repaired by Brown and Garrett and the welding shop at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. At that time, the Canadian artists were still in town working on their piece in the Luminosity indoor exhibit.
But the artists, who were in Lexington for an eight week residency, have since left for Singapore, where they are working on another light-based work.
The light-grid in New Moon will be repaired this week by BCTC welding technology instructor Shawn Gannon, who worked with Garrett, Brown and a crew of BCTC students and Art League volunteers to build New Moon. But the turning mechanism will not be able to be repaired until the work’s public display concludes March 29. The Art League is working with public entities and private businesses that might be interested in buying New Moon and giving it a permanent home and does welcome inquiries about purchasing the work.
“Viewers will be encouraged to walk under and around the sculpture to delight in the different phases and visual effects revealed at different angles,” the Art League statement said. “The interior disc will be strategically positioned to create stunning visuals from all four primary directions of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”
Art League spokeswoman Candace Chaney, a contributing performing arts writer for the Herald-Leader, acknowledged in an email that the group has learned some lessons about public art with this project, particularly that installation pieces such as New Moon are more susceptible to elements and other hazards than, say, murals.
Despite the difficulties, the Art League’s statement deemed the New Moon project a success saying, “LAL is proud of the enormous achievement of Luminosity and thrilled that New Moon has already and will continue to meaningfully engage thousands of community members with quality public art.”