By Bonnie Auslander
The infestation of emerald ash borer to recently hit Lyons is certain to spare at least one new tree—one that was planted outside of the Western Stars Gallery & Studio in commemoration of Earth Day this past Sunday.
That’s because the turquoise blue tree is made of powder-coated steel —600 pounds of it, to be exact. With its metal branches and steel balls that move in the breeze, the 10-foot kinetic “Blue Butterfly Tree,” by nationally-known Lyons sculptor John King, seems to welcome passing drivers to the town of Lyons. It even appears to be
beckoning tourists and residents to step foot into the eclectic multi-room gallery.
About two dozen spectators watched while King attached metal limbs to the tree last Sunday—the base was already in place—and seemed to come alive as the leaves began fluttering in the breeze. An additional twenty or so visitors enjoyed the opening reception inside the gallery.
King considers his sculpture a magical tree, one whose color he considers to have been missing from the streetscape. “It’s a little touch of Santa Fe,” he says, referring not only to the tree’s turquoise color but to its eye-catching and whimsical qualities.
Blue Butterfly Tree is about six years old and has been displayed in several other venues, most notably as part of the International Kinetic Sculpture Exhibition in Boynton Beach, Florida. King is currently only one of twelve national kinetic artists exhibiting at the Overland Park, Kansas, Whirlwind Art Show.
The sculpture becomes de facto part of a new round of public art in Lyons, even though it is not officially included in the soon-to-be-expanded “heARTS of LYONS Outdoor Arts Collection--all over town.” The Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission is currently running a Call for Artists, with a May 15 deadline.
“I love that Lyons is a town that embraces art,” says LAHC chair and artist Melinda Wunder. “Public art serves many purposes in a small town like ours, but one important signal it sends is that this is a fun, quirky place worth your while to linger in.” She notes that artists from all over are invited to submit high-quality, original art and sculpture for Lyons’ newly expanded outdoor arts collection. Information on the Call for Artists is at TownofLyons.com/LAHC.
King is happy with his piece’s new location on the footsteps of a gallery he admires. “The love of the land and affection for the spaces of the west” is apparent to any gallery visitor, he says.
And the gallery will soon have a new neighbor: the Quarry Restaurant will open on Memorial Day weekend in the space formerly occupied by the Ax and Oar.
Gallery co-owners Chrystal DeCoster and Betsy Hubner invite inquiries from those interested in purchasing King’s guaranteed-to-remain-infestation-free Blue Butterfly Tree. Fawned Memories, the nearby bronze deer trio sculpture by another Lyons sculptor, Christine Knapp, is also for sale.