Lexington Art League features ‘Nexus’ display

By: Colin Walsh

Last August, Matt Burke, a Kansas based artist, was brought to Castlewood Park by Lexington Art League to construct a wooden tunnel reminiscent of an adjacent, massive bur oak tree.

But on the final day of its construction, cruel irony, in the form of a gust of wind, brought the very same natural wonder that Burke’s project was venerating crashing down on the 60-foot-long sculpture.

Since then, optimism and a creative mind seem to have won. Burke has returned to the site of the project known as “Nexus: Toward New Land Art,” located on the lawn of the Loundoun House of The Lexington Art League, and plans on finishing what he and a crew of volunteers started in late summer.

This time, however, they will be incorporating part of the fallen tree into the structure.

“Of course it was incredibly disappointing to have the tree fall on ‘Nexus,’ but it was also wonderfully inspiring,” Burke said. “Seeing this giant tree sideways on the lawn showed us just how awesome a body of work it was, and I immediately began thinking of ways to integrate the original inspiration for the sculpture into its final design.”

According to Burke, the sculpture was an inspiration from the beginning, providing the “original limb-like design, the materials used in the sculpture and the placement of the finished piece of art on the lawn.”

Becky Alley, exhibitions and programs director for Lexington Arts League brought Burke in to work on the project because she was attracted to both the beauty and conceptual depth it.

When finished, “Nexus” will remain on display on the Loundoun House lawn, orCastlewood Park, as it is also known, thru June 2011. The wooden wonder is designed in such a way that it will interact with the environment so visitors will likely be privy to a variety of wildlife and seasonal growth.

“[Burke] is really interested in the material of wood, how it comes from something once living,” Alley said. “By placing his large sculptures outside exposed to the elements, the wood is given a new chance at life in the sense that plants and animals can inhabit the structure.”

Burke teaches a sculpture at Kansas University, and plans on using the remaining stump of the enormous bur oak in the re-construction, which began Monday and will run thru Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. According to the Lexington Art League, everyone regardless of age or experience, is encouraged to attend and help with the project, which is well underway.

“The reconstruction is going well,” Alley said. “Folks are really interested in the sculpture, especially since the tree fell, so it’s nice to have the support.”