Fire at MT Liggett’s can’t keep him down!

I just talked to MT and he is still just as full of spit and vinegar as ever.  Of course, he is saddened by the fire, and suspects that a small second fire on Monday could have been arson, but none of this can keep his spirits down.
In fact, he is pretty excited about the new direction his art has taken.  He is working with kid’s art – taking drawings and interpreting them into metal sculptures.  He says he gets just as excited cutting the metal as the kids do when they draw it. (Never mind the piece of art that he recently installed in Greensburg, inciting the folks to send a registered letter imploring him to remove it, claiming that it is a sign and not art.  “Don’t they know that they are playing into my hand?” he asks with a chuckle.)
He has already purchased new equipment and resumed working in “the cup shed,” the barn-like building that houses hundreds of mugs.
By Mark Anderson, Editor
Posted May 10, 2010 @ 01:30 PM
Mullinville —
   Though a mid-afternoon fire Friday destroyed the workshop of Mullinville’s M T Liggett, the colorful roadside artist of Kiowa County said he’ll be back to work as soon as he can replace the necessary equipment destroyed in the blaze.
    Liggett was welding on a piece of art shortly after 3 p.m. Friday when he said he “felt something warm around my feet” prompting him to remove his welder’s mask. Not seeing anything amiss, Liggett returned to work only to send a fireball through his shed.
   “I put my helmet back on and sparked an arc and boom!” he said. “There was a hell of an explosion. I mean there was an instant mass of flames above me and all around me, so I stumbled out the door just in time.” Liggett turned around once outside the structure to see it engulfed in flames, escaping with singed arms and a sinking heart.
   “I guess a can of paint or some accelerant exploded, but man, to stand there and see a quarter of a million in assets go up in smoke, that’s pretty tough,” he continued. In addition to losing all his sign-making equipment Liggett also lost a dozen antique engines, a number of valuable antiques and all his military service records, awards and uniforms. He did not have the building or its contents insured.
   Asked Monday morning if the loss would affect his production of roadside art, Liggett said he planned on driving to Kansas City after lunch to purchase a new plasma torch and several other items. “I need about $10,000 worth of stuff to get going again, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “This was just a hiccup; I’m not going to quit producing my art and the first one I make when I get going again is going to be for Greensburg.”
    Liggett and the City of Greensburg have crossed swords in recent w
eeks over his refusal to purchase a sign permit to exhibit his work on the west edge of town along U.S. 54. The City is reportedly pursuing enforcing its code, which could lead to it removing Liggett’s pieces to a different area of town. For his part, Liggett said he wouldn’t back down.
   “If Greensburg wants my stuff moved they’d better get the winch truck down there,” Liggett said. “I’m not worried about that because they can’t destroy or sell my work, and I’m going to keep hauling things over there.
   “But this fire doesn’t change anything. I’m going to keep on being M T and if people think I’m an a_ _ hole, well, that’s okay with me.”