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Austin Arts: Seeing Things

Posted: 2:04 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013

Art in progress: "Thirst" take shape 


Art in progress: "Thirst" take shape
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
On Thursday, the tree destined for the public art project "Thirst" was in the process of being painted white. The 35-foot cedar elm was ravaged by the drought and due to be taken down, one of more than 300 million Texas trees lost in the drought of the last few years.

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Art in progress: "Thirst" take shape photo
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
The tree will be attached to an armature just under the water's surface so that it appears to hover on the surface of the lake. A support beam was bored into the tree's trunk.
Art in progress: "Thirst" take shape photo
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
The tree's root ball was painted white. Once in place, it will be re-attached to the tree and seem to hover just about the surface of the lake.
Art in progress: "Thirst" take shape photo
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Environmentally low-impact low VOC paint is being used to cover the tree for "Thirst."

By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Progress on "Thirst" is coming along.

On a ranch east of Austin, the striking public art project headed for placement in Lady Bird Lake -- a drought-ravaged 35-foot cedar elm tree -- is in the process of its final touches.

On Thursday, professional painters finished up painting the tree white.

Once installed, "Thirst" will appear to hover over Lady Bird Lake as it bears witness to the more than 300 million Texas trees lost to the exceptional drought of the past several years.

The innovative public art project -- a collaboration between artist Beili Liu along with architects Emily Little and Norma Yancey and landscape architect Cassie Bergstrom -- will begin its journey to the lake where it will be installed between the Lamar Blvd. bridge and the Pfluger pedestrian bridge.

A dedication ceremony is set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29. The project will remain in place until Dec. 20.

Commissioned by nonprofit organization Women & Their Work, “Thirst” is funded by a grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

“Thirst.” Sept. 29-Dec. 20, Lady Bird Lake, www.thirstart.org

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

About Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman where she has worked since 1999.

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