Internationally-acclaimed Stickwork artist, Patrick Dougherty, visited Austin on August 16th after recently finishing a Stickwork installation in Montreal’s Botanical Garden. Dougherty has been creating these environmentally-minded, site-specific, public art installations all over the world for over 30 years and has chosen Austin as a one of the locations which appeal most to his creative spirit for 2018.
Dougherty is a personable, accessible artist whose work and creativity are energized by his involvement with the various stakeholders in the community where one of his Stickwork projects is being created; especially, the volunteers who participate in the actual construction of the design he creates for a specific locale. His creative process is inspired by a site visit to that community prior to the actual three-week installation process. The site visit allows him the chance to become familiar with the environment and the people of the area where he will be working.
In Austin, those stakeholders include the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, the Art in Public Places program with the City’s Economic Development Office, the Pease Park Conservancy, local tree services, and, during the actual construction of the installation, volunteers from all over the community.
During the site visit, Mr. Dougherty identified sources for harvesting the saplings required for weaving the structure of the installation. In Austin, those saplings will include invasive species such as Ligustrum, Depression Willow, Ash, and Elm. Saplings 1-3” in size will be harvested – often, saplings are harvested in accordance with a land management plan to promote an even healthier landscape. Mr. Dougherty also successfully selected a site which best fits his criteria for creating an installation in Pease Park – Custer’s Meadow, immediately south of 24th Street along Parkway.
On the evening of August 16th, the PPC Art Committee hosted members of the community intrigued by the Stickwork project in the home of one of the Conservancy’s Board members. Brief films of the artist and volunteers working on previous Stickwork projects created in other communities were shown to an enthusiastic audience. The evening concluded with a Q&A period with artist, Patrick Dougherty. The response of those who attended the event was a generous, engaged, active, and supportive interest both in helping to fund the project as well as in volunteering to work on the construction of the artwork itself.
Discussions are in the works to engage the Austin community in a variety of programs involving the Stickwork installation in Pease Park over the 18-month to two-year life of the sculpture. Mr. Dougherty returned to his North Carolina home after his Austin site visit and will be working on design ideas for when he returns January 2018 to create Austin’s very own Stickwork in Pease Park.