Gyre, 1999. Earthcast concrete, steel, and iron oxide, 24 x 22 x 150ft. Work installed at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

Thomas Sayre and the Sculpture of Place

Thomas Sayre is surveying River Reels, a pair of 20-foot-tall earth castings that he created in 1999. They’re perfectly round circles of rust-colored concrete, 12 to 18 inches thick, the width of a backhoe bucket. They were poured on site in a field, lifted by crane into vertical positions, and canted away from each other, 75 feet apart. Clients Alan and Marty Finkle have replanted the two rings left in the earth, formed where the backhoe sliced the reels out of a bright green pasture. They selected a pale, muted bluegrass for contrasting foliage. Three of the Finkles’ black and white goats are picking their way methodically through the bluegrass, ripping weeds out by their roots and chowing down voraciously. The reels frame the goats well, while calling attention to a brooding, distant, and magnificent chestnut oak, now deceased. “When we made these, it was a really great tree,” Sayre says. It remains so today, even bare-branched in the lush Carolina spring. “If you look, you can see a small dogwood growing up in front of it,” an excited Alan Finkle points out. Everyone on site squints to locate the up-and-comer, as though it’s become the most important living organism on the planet…see the entire article in the print version of June’s Sculpture magazine.