Louisville Artist Matt Weir Will Do Maker’s Mark Permanent Artwork

Louisville Artist Matt Weir Will Do Maker’s Mark Permanent Artwork

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JUNE 2019: Louisville artist Matt Weir commissioned to produce major contemporary work of art for display at Maker’s Mark
Lebanon (KY) Tourist & Convention Commission
Staff Report
Sculptor Matt Weir is using his artistic skills to distill 120,000 pounds of American limestone into the story of limestone-filtered water becoming Maker’s Mark bourbon.
And this is quite the monumental task.
The Louisville artist, and his assistant sculptor Christopher Raber, are toiling in a crane company loading zone, an old quarry site, in New Albany, Ind. They are hammering, chiseling, and using diamond-blade power saws to carve, ounce-by-ounce, inch-by-inch, on massive limestone blocks the size of trucks.
They’ll be there most of the summer.
Artist Matt Weir, at work on the limestone.
When it’s complete, the sculpture will be assembled for permanent display next to Star Hill Provisions, the acclaimed restaurant on the campus of world-famous Maker’s Mark Distillery, near Loretto in Marion County, Kentucky.
It all began with the vision of Chief Distillery Officer Rob Samuels at Maker’s Mark, who is the eighth-generation distiller to bear the historically famous name, Samuels.
“Matt’s vision for this sculpture is extraordinary,” said Samuels. “In a single piece, I believe he’s capturing not only what makes Kentucky the best spot in the world to make bourbon, but also the uniqueness of Maker’s Mark, because all the bourbon we make starts with the limestone-filtered, spring-fed lakes on our property.”
“It’s a powerful concept,” he said, “representing the journey of our water that eventually bursts into the world to complete my grandparents’ vision for this place and this brand. I’m excited for our guests to experience it.”
 
Weir said he was asked by Samuels to submit a “concept proposal” after the two talked. They know each other well. It was Weir who created the trophy Maker’s Mark presented to the 2019 winner of the Maker’s Mark 46 Mile at Keeneland.
“After talking with him,” said Samuels of Weir, “about our desire to find new ways both to support great art as well as tell our own story in compelling ways, he grasped immediately what we’re all about and agreed to create a permanent sculpture that I think our guests will find stunning.”
Weir’s “concept proposal” to Samuels included the line, “This work will excite, inspire, and attract Maker’s broad international audience as well as offer them a significant new element to their campus.”
The work’s “geophysical nature also continues into the sonic realm,” reads the proposal. “Here, the conical stone bottleneck will perform as a cave-like audio element ushering an audio/visual feature directly related to the limestone-filtered and cave-cutting drips which ultimately become Maker’s Mark.
“This element of the sculpture, and the sculpture entirely, was designed with the consideration of the modern term ‘distill’ and its Latin origins ‘destillare,’ referring to individual drips as the slow means of the distillation process.”
Not to reveal too much, but a stainless steel portion of the sculpture will represent water, which travels through limestone, then into the copper still and eventually is filled into a Maker’s Mark bottle featuring red wax. A red splat in the sculpture will represent looking inside the bottle from the bottom up. But all this is getting a bit ahead of the story.
Soon after submitting the concept proposal, Weir said his phone rang early one morning. It was Samuels.
“He’s a real hands-on kind of guy,” said Weir of Samuels. “But yet he understands artists and gives them creative freedom…it’s just absolutely great.”
They talked a bit to finalize a few things. “And he said ‘go’ and work got underway.”
Weir was officially commissioned.
Weir handpicked the giant slabs of limestone from one of the only places in the world where such a thing can be done: two rock quarries near Bloomington, Ind.
Indiana Limestone also provided all the stone for the facade of the Empire State Building, and Texacon, which is where portions of the movie “Breaking Away” were shot.
Almost a dozen large pieces that cumulatively weigh about 120,000 pounds were hauled to Padget Crane Company in New Albany, Ind. where Weir and Raber began the labor-intensive process of carving the stone.
MATT WEIR, CONTEMPORARY SCULPTOR AND ARTIST
The youthful Weir, who earned his BFA from the Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville in 2004, has already established himself with an astonishing storyline of artwork.
Weir considers himself a “student of natural history” influenced by the likes of the late Edward O. Wilson and Darwin, and even corresponds with the Dutch primatologist Frans DeWaal.
His work is considered beyond adventuresome…it’s considered extraordinarily groundbreaking in a way that merges art, nature and human reaction to both.
He made national news in 2013 with construction of Earth Measure at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Kentucky, a 100-ton assembled and carved stone interactive land art piece. It allows the viewer to “tune into acoustic ecology and soundscape science,” and no doubt will be a cousin to the Maker’s Mark piece, sharing similar qualities.
His monumental works in stone, bronze and mixed media include “Presence,” a polychromed aluminum public art “sign” in downtown Louisville, KY, and the statue of Revolutionary War Colonel William Oldham, where Weir famously used Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy as a model.
The famous bronze Louisville St. X tiger, which intimidates as it threatens to crawl off its pedestal? That’s Weir’s work.
Yet the guy who creates artwork that seems beyond the possibility of human hands can be as giddy as a kid when he handles the “tools” of his craft.
“Check this out!” he exclaimed as he grabbed the world’s first gas-powered stone cutter gifted to him by Husqvarna to use on the Maker’s Mark project.
It’s a 30.4-pound thing of terrifying power, the 6.5 horsepower K970 Ring saw. “They said it’s able to make 10.6-inch cuts with its 14-inch blade, but I’m finding it can make cuts much deeper.”
And with that he hoisted the massive saw, and like a chef using a knife on butter, he buried the whirling diamond blade into massive limestone destined to become a Maker’s Mark landmark.

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