Downtown will soon feature kinetic sculpture




The Friends of Garden City Arts organization has received approval from the city council to erect a new, 18-foot stainless steel kinetic sculpture by local artist Rusty Burgardt at the northwest corner of Main and Pine Streets in downtown Garden City.

The sculpture, "Wind Fire," features five rotating "flames" at the top, and has programmable LED lights in various colors that will light up at night and can be changed for special holidays or occasions. Each six-foot tall "flame" shape turns freely and individually in the wind.

"I've never done a sculpture like this, something kinetic. Kinetic means it moves," Burgardt said. "I'm really not much of an artist. I've built a lot of other things, but never really a sculpture of this magnitude."

Burgardt said he considers himself more of a hobbyist than an artist. He has been doing metal fabrication at his home and shop for about 10 years, and operates a side business called, Burgardt's Custom Metal.

"My true passion is metal, anything metal," he said. "I like building things out of metal. I'm no wood worker, that's for sure, but I like sparks, and shavings and stuff like that. With wood, if you make a cut you can never change it. But metal, you can cut it, shape it, reform it and weld it back together. I change my mind too much to work in wood."

The genesis of the "Wind Fire" sculpture came more than two years ago when Burgardt was approached by Vivian Fankhauser, chair of Friends of Garden City Arts, about creating a piece for downtown. Fankhauser had seen some of the things Burgardt had created out of old auto parts in the past, he said.

Burgardt builds models out of random steel parts, creating engines out of pipe fittings and bodies out of sheet metal. He uses mostly scrap metal that he forms into things as ideas come to him.

Burgardt drew a rough sketch that he took to an art instructor at the high school to help refine. That drawing was then used to help the fundraising effort for the project.

The sculpture will be set on the triangular property in front of Adams Real Estate. Linda Adams consented to its location, which will be seen for blocks from five different directions. The stainless steel four foot by four foot square base slopes up to a small circle at the top making the piece impossible to climb. A bronze plaque will be installed as well.

A former firefighter, Burgardt said he has always enjoyed drawing flames and joked that he may be a bit of a pyromaniac. That's probably where the idea for the sculpture's flames came from. He said the flames are a high-polish stainless steel that will appear like chrome, adding to the effect of the piece as they turn by catching the light of the sun and the lights that turn on at night.

Currently, the sculpture is in several pieces awaiting a final polish. Burgardt said the city will be preparing the concrete for the base, and it may be three to four weeks before it is set in place. But he is definitely looking forward to it.

"I'm really excited to have something of this size downtown that people can appreciate," he said.

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