Wander through the twisting passages inside Patrick Dougherty’s stickwork art installation Boogie Woogie, a part of Hermann Park’s exciting yearlong Art in the Park project.
The Hermann Park Conservancy is celebrating the park’s 100th anniversary with Art in the Park, a special program bringing spectacular and original artists to create original and larger-than-life works within the park itself. Patrick Dougherty’s stickwork installation, christened Boogie Woogie by the artist himself, is one of the very first to debut.
Based in North Carolina, Patrick Dougherty has become noted for his fascinating work with saplings and sticks, which he uses to create fantastical, quasi-architectural structures that seem to evoke another time, place or fantasy realm altogether. Individual sapling branches and sticks are woven together in windswept patterns, that suggest they have occurred in nature. The result is something that could be right at home in J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth or J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but also remains authentically grounded in our own real world.
Not only do visitors to his newest work in Hermann Park get to inspect Dougherty’s stickwork up close, but they may step inside and wander through Boogie Woogie‘s tight, interwoven passageways. Views through the windows, wide open skylights and between the branches themselves offer an entirely new perspective on Hermann Park previously familiar surroundings.
Visiting Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork Installation at Hermann Park
Dougherty’s stickwork domicile is easy to spot, just west of the Pioneer Memorial obelisk at the southern end of the reflecting pool. When you’re facing the obelisk, with the reflecting pool to your back, Doughtery’s otherworldly stickwork structure will be off to your right, just past the Hermann Park train railroad tracks and immediate south of the entrance to the Japanese Garden.
Despite the organic and therefore temporary nature of the material used to create it, the installation is expected to remain on view for four to five years before being dismantled.
Creating Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork Installation at Hermann Park
If Dougherty’s structure looks like it could have sprung from the Houston soil it’s standing on, that’s because the saplings that went into it were gathered locally and assembled by Houston area volunteers. In early January, volunteers harvested and bundled the saplings and sticks at a development site in Northeast Houston. From January 8 to January 24, 2014, more volunteers worked to complete the project alongside (and following the direction of) the artist and his assistant. Overall, several hundred volunteers and more than 1,000 volunteer hours went into the completion of this unique work of environmental artistry.
About Patrick Dougherty
Oklahoma born, Dougherty grew up in North Carolina. Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. While this work began as single “pedestal pieces,” Dougherty quickly expanded to much immersive and environmental work, as personified by his new installation in Houston. Using this method, he has built more than 230 original structures around the world and earned international standing as an artist. Click here to visit his website and see some of his other stickwork structures.
About Hermann Park’s Centennial Art Project Art in the Park
In celebration of the park’s 100th anniversary, Hermann Park Conservancy launched a yearlong Centennial Art Project named Art in the Park. Over the course of 2014, a series of unique, contemporary art installations will be installed and displayed through the 445-acre park. Each of the artists featured in this program have a distinctive style and together they will present a diverse mix of public art experiences for Hermann Park’s guests.
Stay tuned to 365 Things to Do in Houston as we cover each Art in the Park installation over the course of 2014.
Art in the Park: Patrick Dougherty’s Boogie Woogie at Hermann Park
- Exhibition Period: The stickwork installation will remain on view for four to five years from its January 2014 debut.
- Location: South end of the Jones Reflecting Pool, just slightly west of the obelisk and south of the Japanese Gardens at Hermann Park, 6001 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030
- Parking: Free three-hour parking is available at many of the parking lots surrounding Herman Park.
My first exposure to Patrick’s work was as an undergraduate student at Carleton College, Northfield MN, where in the winter of 2002 Patrick installed Twigonometry. The project was whimsical, imaginative, and refreshingly simple in conception. It was a also simply a great place to get lost for a second. It’s an impression that has stuck with me – though I’ll admit a certain amount of ambivalence about his work.
While Mr. Dougherty definitely has a way with branches, the over-all forms and flow (perhaps of this work in particular – I can’t get over the forced square-ness of the “window” and the “door”) feel somewhat static and stilted when compared to both his earlier pieces and to nature specifically. But, regardless of the individual artistic success of one piece over another, I appreciate the art vs. nature confoundedness that his work provides.
More about bent-wood structures as it relates to Animal Architecture can be found in our essay On Monstrosity at http://www.animalarchitecture.org/patrick-dougherty/
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