Answer: Redbuds are prone to disease, and what is happening to yours happens to many. You could prune out the dead parts and see if the tree responds and remains healthy.
As for growing a vine on the tree, you could certainly do this, but be ready for the rest of the tree to die and the vine to collapse. You might be better off by constructing a permanent, free-standing trellis near the tree to grow the vine on, so in the event of the tree's demise, you will still have your vine.
Wisteria is a very woody vine, and wll become quite heavy with time. Perhaps you should consider growing other types of vines that aren't quite so woody. Some annual vines: scarlet runners beans, hyacinth beans, cardinal climber, tall trailing nasturiums and moonflowers. Some perennial vines: clematis, silver lace vine, akebia, sweet pea and honeysuckle. You might contact your cooperative extension office for further information and possibly a verification of the problem with your redbud.
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