Categories
Arts and Humanities Local News

Massive Sculpture Inspired by 1974 Tornado on Display

21c Museum unveils a large sculpture Friday night that was built to fit in its atrium as part of the Louisville Visual Art Festival focusing on glass.

It’s by artist Anne Peabody, who has her own ideas about Wheel of Fortune — and it has nothing to do with a game show. It’s her name for the sculpture she created. It weighs nearly 4000 pounds and has glass bottles and carved wooden objects — birds, tables, toys — mounted on a twisting skeleton that evokes a tornado.

Peabody says the piece came out of witnessing the 1974 tornado when she was six years old.

“All of the toys I’d almost ever wanted landed in my yard and my school blew away,” she says. “So, what was a terrible circumstance for everyone around us was actually one of the great experiences of my life. And it’s the first time I ever remember feeling guilt.”

The sculpture is on display along with more than 50 exhibits in the region featuring art that uses glass as part of the second annual Louisville Visual Arts Festival. The glass art focus come after more regional artists have begun working with glass in recent decades and Louisville has seen several major galleries for glass art open. That has attracted a major conference for professionals working in glass art, which starts next week.

21c Museum  commissioned Louisville-born, New York-based Peabody to create the installation.

Peabody says she’s been working with glass for several years and had specific ideas about its use in this piece, which is is 25 feet long.

“I intended to use glass first because of the sort of kaleidoscope effect that I though it could me,” she says. “In this piece I silvered the insides of about 300 bottles, and the bottles are refuse from my neighborhood in Brooklyn.”

Peabody says she started thinking about Louisville’s 1974 tornado several years ago.

“I sort of felt I was really down on my luck; I had a lot of health problems when I started carving pieces for this about four years ago,” she says. “And so, I was really thinking about luck and one man’s bad luck being another person’s good luck.”

Peabody’s work also includes a piece called Glass Stress that was on exhibit at the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Categories
Local News

Cleanup Continues From Deadly Storm

From WEKU, Richmond/Kentucky Public Radio

More than a dozen Kentucky counties continue to clean up following Friday’s severe storms. A tornado in Madison County killed two people and damaged 150 homes. Governor Steve Beshear has declared an emergency in the affected areas and more than 100 National Guard troops have been activated to help with storm relief and cleanup. Kentucky Emergency management Director Brigadier General John Heltzel is promising additional state assistance.

“What happens at this point we complete the damage assessments and we roll that up…it rolls into a factor and we evaluate whether we’ve made presidential declaration limits or not. In reality, in this case, we may not make it. Then the state will be able to provide whatever resources administrative support we can,” Heltzel said.

Madison County Judge-Executive Kent Clark says the cleanup will take three or four weeks and cost the county between $250,000 and $300,000.

Categories
Local News

Possible Tornadoes Reported In Kentucky

Possible tornado damage has been reported in western and south central Kentucky.

Officials say today’s severe storms damaged houses and other property in Hopkins, Christian, Pulaski and Lincoln counties.

Kentucky Division of Emergency Management spokesperson Buddy Rogers says the events have not yet been confirmed to be tornado touchdowns.

“The Weather Service will come in; they’ll send personnel on the ground,” says Rogers. “They determine what damages are obvious and they have a methodology they use that determines if it was a tornado or not.”

Two injuries have been reported. They are not considered life threatening.

Categories
State of Affairs

35 Years Since the 1974 Tornadoes


Thursday, April 2, 2009
35 Years Since the 1974 Tornadoes
It’s one of those where-were-you-when-it-happened moments. Throughout the afternoon and evening of April 3, a super outbreak of 148 tornadoes tore through 13 states and as far north as Ontario, Canada. The twister that touched down in Louisville destroyed part of the fairgrounds, injured 207 people, destroyed or damaged thousands of others. On the eve of the storm’s 35th anniversary, we’ll look back at that day with journalist Glen Bastin and meteorologist Tom Wills, who covered the tornado as it happened. Tune in, and call us with your memories of the storm and its aftermath.

Listen to the Show

Related Links:

Categories
Local News

Windstorm-Felled Trees Could Invite Invasives in Parks

Listen to the story here.

The visible impacts of the storm are not hard to miss here in Iroquois park and other parks across the county. Officials say it will likely take months to clean up. In park woodlands, the debris can also pose dangers—overhead and under foot.

“Straight ahead you can see one of the things we’re having to deal with. That tree was snapped off, tremendous hazard tree right there, and it’s very tenuously balanced on the trunk,” Knox says.

That’s Bennett Knox, a natural resources manager for city parks. In Iroquois park, winds snapped giant, hundred-year-old trees in half and scattered branches across trails. Beyond the obvious danger from precarious branches, another, less visible danger could be lurking in the soil. Where the wind knocked down trees, it created openings in the tree canopy. Knox says plants and trees that love sunlight –some welcome, some not so welcome–could sprout up in those openings before replanting can begin.

“The longer term issue from an ecology standpoint is what that opening means and what we need to do to help it establish in the way we want it to establish, reestablish,” says Knox.

Knox says it could mean a fast growing but native tree called the tulip poplar could move in. But it could also mean invasive species like the bush honeysuckle will take advantage of the new clearing. And if that happens, the parks could face yet another long battle. Parks director Mike Heitz was with the department in 1974, when a tornado tore through town and practically balded Cherokee park.

“And with the winds that came through with the tornado, we think that’s when all the invasives were blown into the area. And because of the sunlight, they were able to take root and grow. So now we’re fighting with the invasives that are trying to choke out the plants that we planted in 1974 following the tornado,” Heitz says.

Heitz says they replanted following original designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s specifications.
“Basically now, we’re coming back to a point that the scar that was once there is pretty much gone, except for one thing and that’s the invasive species,” Heitz says.

More than 30 years later, full time park crews are still waging war against bush honeysuckle. Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s project manager Major Waltman says part of the reason is that this plant is very hardy.

”It is an absolutely great competitor for sunlight, for nutrients. It produces an abundant number of seeds,” says Waltman.

Birds happen to love it, and spread its seeds. And Waltman says that while bush honeysuckle seeds need sunlight to germinate, the full grown plant can thrive in shade. Now, it’s doing just that in Cherokee park, where the tree canopy has grown back. The problem is not just an aesthetic one. Bush honeysuckle may change the look of a landscape. But Waltman says it could also upset the unique bonds of biodiversity that have evolved in an ecosystem.

“You have insects, you have mammals, reptiles, amphibians, that evolved with local plants in their area. And when those plants are removed or no longer there because they’re out-competed by some plant that hasn’t been there very long…”says Waltman.

…It upsets their balance. And that’s true of any invasive species that decides to settle in. For now, parks employees haven’t even begun to assess all the damage. They’re still busy helping power company and public works officials disentangle branches and power lines. Meanwhile, invasive species won’t be waiting for permission to move in.

Categories
Environment In-Depth News

Windstorm-Felled Trees Could Invite Invasives in Parks


The visible impacts of the storm are not hard to miss here in Iroquois park and other parks across the county.  Officials say it will likely take months to clean up.  In park woodlands, the debris can also pose dangers.

“Straight ahead you can see one of the things we’re having to deal with.  That tree was snapped off, tremendous hazard tree right there, and it’s very tenuously balanced on the trunk,” Knox says.

That’s Bennett Knox, a natural resources manager for city parks. In Iroquois park, winds snapped giant, hundred-year-old trees in half and scattered branches across trails.  Beyond the obvious danger from precarious branches, another, less visible danger could be lurking in the soil.  Where the wind knocked down trees, it created openings in the tree canopy.  Knox says plants and trees that love sunlight –some welcome, some not so welcome–could sprout up in those openings before replanting can begin.

“The longer term issue from an ecology standpoint is what that opening means and what we need to do to help it establish in the way we want it to establish, reestablish,” says Knox.

Knox says it could mean a fast growing but native tree called the tulip poplar could move in. But it could also mean invasive species like the bush honeysuckle will take advantage of the new clearing.  And if that happens, the parks could face yet another long battle.  Parks director Mike Heitz was with the department in 1974, when a tornado tore through town and practically balded Cherokee park.

“And with the winds that came through with the tornado, we think that’s when all the invasives were blown into the area.  And because of the sunlight, they were able to take root and grow.  So now we’re fighting with the invasives that are trying to choke out the plants that we planted in 1974 following the tornado,” Heitz says.

Heitz says they replanted following original designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s specifications.

“Basically now, we’re coming back to a point that the scar that was once there is pretty much gone, except for one thing and that’s the invasive species,” Heitz says.

More than 30 years later, full time park crews are still waging war against bush honeysuckle.  Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s project manager Major Waltman says part of the reason is that this plant is very hardy.    From Wikipedia, a close up of Bush Honeysuckle in Fall.

”It is an absolutely great competitor for sunlight, for nutrients, produces an abundant number of seeds,” says Waltman.

Birds happen to love it, and spread its seeds.  And Waltman says that while bush honeysuckle seeds need sunlight to germinate, the full grown plant can thrive in shade.  Now, it’s doing just that in Cherokee park, where the tree canopy has grown back.  The problem is not just an aesthetic one.  Bush honeysuckle may change the look of a landscape.  But Waltman says it could also upset the unique bonds of biodiversity that have evolved in an ecosystem.

“You have insects, you have mammals, reptiles, amphibians, that evolved with local plants in their area. And when those plants are removed or no longer there because they’re out-competed by some plant that hasn’t been there very long…”says Waltman.

…It upsets their balance.  And that’s true of any invasive species that decides to settle in.  For now, parks employees haven’t even begun to assess all the damage.  They’re still busy helping power company and public works officials disentangle branches and power lines.  Meanwhile, invasive species won’t be waiting for permission to move in.

Categories
Local News

Jefferson County Alert to Tornado Siren Vandalization

Metro government officials say they have been alert to the dangers of vandalism to tornado sirens, especially after the recent discovery of sirens being tampered with in Elizabethtown.

During a recent test of tornado sirens in Elizabethtown, officials there found copper wiring had been stolen from six devices, requiring $10,000 in repairs.

Jim McKinney works for the Metro Emergency Management Agency. He says most of the 200 tornado sirens in Jefferson County are located in high traffic areas, including fire departments and schools. McKinney says they also are protected to deter thefts.

“Most of our sirens, we install them with vandalism and things of that nature in mind,” McKinney says. “Our sirens are raised so the general public just can’t get to them at ground level. And then some of our sirens, we have them in fenced areas.”

McKinney says the city tests the sirens monthly and has maintenance crews check many of them periodically.

Copper prices have skyrocketed since January making the metal more valuable to thieves. Scrap copper currently sells for about $3 per pound.