Civic Center’s art collection branching out with interactive and musical “Tree of Transformation”

At Burning Man, the wild art and culture party thrown each summer in the Nevada desert, Denver residents Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf watched as wave after wave of people interacted with their twisting “Tree of Transformation” sculpture.

“We’d just kind of sit off to the side and not tell anyone we created it,” Geurts said. “Sometimes I would ask them questions and it was really entertaining to hear them explain how they thought the engineering worked.”

Guerts will get more chances to see the public play with and marvel at the 20-foot-tall “Tree of Transformation” when it’s installed in Civic Center park on Jan. 18.

The wood-and-steel sculpture depicts a tree-like structure sprouting from the top of a functional, weatherized piano, which people can play, hear and watch as its “leaves” light up. The keys trigger a set of mallets that strike nine steelpans, handcrafted in Trinidad and Tobago.

The sculpture is the first in a new public-art push from Civic Center Conservancy, dubbed Civic Center Art in the Park, that furthers its mission of preserving, restoring and activating different areas of the sprawling space between the state Capitol and Denver’s City and County building.

“We’ve been talking about using art as an activator in the park since we started this program two years ago,” said Eric Lazzari, director of programming and events at the nonprofit, 14-year-old Conservancy. “And Brendan (Picker, public art coordinator for Denver Arts & Venues) reached out to me saying there’s this local, up-and-coming artist looking for a home for his piece he created for Burning Man in 2014.”

“Tree of Transformation,” which Guerts and Elmendorf’s YetiWeurks company is loaning to Civic Center through April 15, happened to fit all of Lazzari’s criteria: free, interactive, family-friendly and highly visible.

“From there, it really was about finding the approvals and funding that we needed,” Lazzari said. “And now, 18 months later, we’re getting ready to put it up.”

Lazzari wrangled funding from the P.S. You Are Here grant from Denver Arts & Venues, which this week announced another $65,500 for eight grantees for 2017-2018, as well as a grant from Xcel Energy and a contribution from Slifer Smith & Frampton.

As a result, Civic Center Conservancy will direct $20,000 of its relatively modest $1 million annual budget toward installing “Tree of Transformation” — which involves more than simply wheeling the sculpture into the park.

“The total project budget includes some infrastructure improvements,” Lazzari said.

Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle

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