Art update: ‘Thirst’ tree weathers the flooding

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Art update: ‘Thirst’ tree weathers the flooding

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 14, 2013

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 14, 2013

The 35-foot cedar elm tree that forms the centerpiece of “Thirst,” a public art project literally on Lady Bird Lake, has survived the recent weather event that dumped more than a foot of rain on some parts of Central Texas on Sunday.

Not unironically, “Thirst” was created to call attention to the record-setting drought that’s destroyed 300 million trees in the last few years.

It survived the deluge just fine though the piles and support structure supporting it proved a catch-all for floating debris.

Crews were due to head out on Monday to begin clearing the debris from the installation, said an official with Women & Their Work, the non-profit sponsoring and funding the project.

The heavy rains prompted the Lower Colorado River Authoriy to open a floodgate on Tom Miller Dam for several hours Sunday to allow excess water to flow from Lake Austin downstream through Lady Bird Lake. Along with that water, came branches, tree limbs and other debris.

“Thirst” features the tree painted a ghostly white and seemingly hovering over the lake, its roots just out of reach of the water.

The heavy rains weren’t sufficient to bust the drought, however. Lake Travis is still about 43 feet below its average level for this time of year.

The bulk of the rain fell downstream of those two lakes.

As of late Sunday, Lake Travis had risen about a foot and Lake Buchanan had risen about an inch, said a LCRA official.

“Thirst” will remain on view through Dec. 13. www.thirstart.org

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