A moving piece of art





The southwest Kansas wind plays an important role when it comes to a new sculpture in downtown Garden City.

"The wind in southwest Kansas can be crazy, so I wanted it to move in the wind, but not too much," sculptor Rusty Burgardt, Garden City, said.

Five rotating "flames," all of which have a different shape, sit atop the sculpture, each rotating independently of one another whenever the wind blows.

The sculpture also features programmable LED lights in various colors that will light up at night and can be changed for special holidays or occasions.

Burgardt's kinetic sculpture, "Wind Fire," and "Starburst", by Jim LaPaso of Kyle, Texas, were dedicated Friday afternoon at the intersection of Pine Street, Stevens Avenue and Main Street.

This was the first major project done by Burgardt, a mechanic by trade.

"I'm just a mechanic, just a welder, and this is the first time I've ever gotten the opportunity to do something like this," Burgardt said.

Both of his skills played an important role in constructing the sculpture, which is made out of stainless steel. He said he began by tracing the shapes out of the steel, then used a shear to cut them out, and then welded the cutouts together to form the three-sided flames.

"It took me close to six months, but we worked every weekend. I say we, but it was my 2-year-old there. He was with me the whole time. Every time I was out there, he wanted to be there. He really enjoys it," Burgardt said.

His son, Kolton, was at the dedication, along with his wife, Jeneria Burgardt, his parents, Dennis and Bonnie Burgardt, his sister, Heidi Webb, and her husband, Nic Webb.

During the dedication, Vivian Fankhauser, chairwoman of the Friends of Garden City Arts, thanked the city of Garden City for its support of the arts. The city installed the sculptures and provides all of the sculptures' bases and electricity when needed.

"I also want to thank the Finnup Foundation and the Western Kansas Community Foundation for giving us grants every year to do our sculptures," she said.

During the dedication, Burgardt said he was given free reign in creating his sculpture.

"I just want to thank Vivian and the whole arts council for giving me the opportunity to just kind of be creative and do what I do," he said. "That's one of the best clients you can have, where they give you free reign."

He said he also hopes that the opportunity will arise for him to work on future projects on behalf of the Garden City Arts.

Garden City Mayor Dan Fankhauser said that the arts and, particularly, downtown go along with the city's goal of making Garden City the regional center of western Kansas.

"We've got the zoo, we've got the hospital, we've got some more regional shopping out east, but the downtown plays a very important part," he said, adding that a city is judged to a large degree on its downtown area.

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