Fire Torches Art Piano In Civic Center Park

July 25, 2018
Photo: Civic Center Park Art | Burned Piano - Courtesy
“Tree of Transformation” by Denver artists Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf is a total loss after a fire destroyed the piano.

Update July 26, 2018: According to a release from the Denver Fire Department an arrest has been made. Wednesday night, Denver Police apprehended Amanda Marie Failla, 28, and fire investigators arrested Failla on investigation of second degree arson. The arrest follows a review of video footage of the fire provided by Denver Parks and Recreation. The investigation remains open. Our original story continues below.
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Fire destroyed a piano in Denver’s Civic Center Park that was part of an interactive 20-foot-tall sculpture.

Denver Fire Department was unable to disclose much information because the fire, which was reported around 2:20 a.m. Wednesday, is under investigation.

The destroyed work, “Tree of Transformation” by Denver artists Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf, was part of the Civic Center Conservancy’s Civic Center Art in the Park program. The nonprofit used money from its own budget, plus additional grant funding from Denver Arts & Venues to install the work.

Conservancy Executive Director Scott Robson says it will be “a complete loss.”

“It’s not something that can be repaired,” he says, adding that the artists are working to remove the artwork this week.

The artwork has been vandalized at least “half a dozen times,” Robinson says. The conservancy has never had to deal with a total loss on public art before, so he is unsure if the destroyed piece will be covered by the conservancy’s general liability insurance.  

“It’s all unfortunate for the park, for the general public… and for us as a conservancy who’s just trying to bring public art and positive activities into that park on a daily basis,” he says. “To have this kind of setback is pretty disheartening.”

In an email, artist Nick Geurts says he's “just glad for the time it was there and that people got to experience it.”

It’s the second recent blow to historic Civic Center Park. A car destroyed part of a 100-year-old balustrade on the north side of the park. Robson says they “take these things as they come,” and the conservancy hopes to “bring in another great piece of public art in 2019.”

Read More: There’s Downside To Colorado’s Love Of Public Art. The Maintenance Is Expensive.