Patrick Dougherty Sculpture Installation

It’s only been a little over a year. Guess it’s time to start blogging again.

Patrick, me and Natalie at work.

This month, I took off a week’s worth of half-days to assist on a sculpture installation by Patrick Daugherty in Ithaca, across the street from Collegetown Bagels. About two-thirds of my volunteer work was material prep and moving scaffolding (where my height was a real asset), but about a third of the time I got to work directly with Patrick tying the structural elements together or weaving fill into the pieces. This picture (above, by Rebecca Thomas) ran on the front page of the Cornell Daily Sun during the installation.

Long view of finished installation.
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I guess the title for the work that Patrick finally settled on was Half Dozen of the Other. It consists of six somewhat deformed towers that weave in and out around the locust trees on the small plaza in front of Sheldon Court, adjacent to a very high traffic area linking Collegetown to campus.

Close up of tower.
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The sculptures are made mostly from maple and dogwood. For each one, Patrick stuck four or five long maple poles in half a dozen holes drilled in the sidewalk. He bent the poles around each other and the trees and tied some to scaffolding to form the basic structure. Then he (and a crew of volunteers) wove material ranging from pole-size to fine branches into the structure. Sounds easy. But that description sure doesn’t do it justice. It took a couple of weeks to complete, even with the volunteer help and a couple of kids from a local landscaping firm who spent most of their time harvesting and trucking plant material to the site.

View from terrace.
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One of my favorite views of the sculpture is from a terrace behind the site that provides a higher-angle view. The work screams out for exploration and interaction. I especially like to watch little kids (and adults) wander into the sculptures through the doorways and peek out the windows. It’s an ephemeral work, scheduled for demolition in a year. So plan to explore it soon.

Natalie, me, Patrick.
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When I first volunteered, I wasn’t sure how much time I would spend helping. But Patrick was such a gracious host and made everyone feel welcome. I”m not sure if I was more in awe of his artistic abilities or his skills in managing volunteers. It was great to get to know Patrick, Natalie, Amaechi and the other volunteers. Can’t wait until my willows are ready to harvest for a similar project at home.

There’s a great photo essay documenting the whole process at the Cornell Council for the Arts website. Unfortunately, it’s a flash site so I can’t link directly to it. Once the flash launches, click on menu > NOW > installations.

Update: Photo essay in the Sept. 28 Cornell Chronicle. I’m in there if you look closely.

Update: (3/13/2007) 4-minute video about the installation.

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