Kids rush into the doors and hang out the windows. Adults step gingerly over the mulch floors and step back to view the five, tall, curved, leaning structures that look like something from “Where the Wild Things Are” or “The Hobbit.”
“We let the kids in early,” says StickWork artist Patrick Dougherty. “They weren’t sure they were allowed to come in the gate.”
The fences come down today. The public unveiling is 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 10, courtesy of the Pease Park Conservancy.
“We wanted to make a cathedral,” Dougherty says. “We got five corners instead.”
The $106,000 project made from 10 tons of locally harvested then bent, woven and fastened Texas ash, elm, ligustrum and depression willow were built in three weeks by Dougherty and his son, Sam, along with volunteers and staff from Houston’s Weingarten Art Group. The site off Parkway not far from Windsor Road was picked because of accessibility and parking, but it’s also a little sheltered and not clearly visible from North Lamar Boulevard.
Dougherty, who has built 288 of these StickWork projects around the world after working on a family cabin, had always wanted to work in Austin. He says the still-unnamed group of five structures should last two years before they begin to deteriorate seriously.
The Conservancy will maintain the art, then, with the help mulch the remains to spread around the park.
What a rush: Pease Park Conservancy has put out a call for volunteers to help build a major sculpture in the park in January 2018.
Designed by renowned artist Patrick Dougherty, this will be the latest Stickwork, a series of over 275 distinct sculptures around the world.
According to a Pease Park communiqué, it will take about three weeks to build the site-specific piece – comprised entirely of locally harvested saplings – which is intentionally built for the community by the community.
“Volunteers are needed for single day shifts, although if the project really gels with the right person they are welcome to help out for longer,” says spokesman Mason Kerwick. “Since Patrick will be on site every day guiding the shape of the piece, this is the perfect opportunity for anyone curious to learn more about the artistic process of an internationally renowned artist – while also spending time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and nature in one of Austin’s oldest park.
Once complete, the sculpture will remain on display in Pease Park for a few years.
Stone-carver Stuart Simpson, who lives in Cedar Park and works from a studio in Southeast Austin, can estimate how much it would cost to add President Donald J. Trump to Mount Rushmore, something the president has discussed in public with a mocking tone that ends up sounding serious.
New York-based Washington Post reporter Philip Bump contacted Stu, a neat guy and a member of the Stone Carvers Guild whom we’ve always intended to profile, to find out what it would take.
“His estimate — which was obviously very rough given the infrequency of projects of this scale — was that it would take a team of about 180 people about four years to complete the job. (The work is “not like making a pizza,” he said.) That team would consist of about 25 designers, 30 trained stone workers and some 125 laborers to do the bulk of the chipping away at the mountain to create a 60-foot-tall head.
“At estimated hourly rates of $100 (designers), $50 (trained stone workers) and $30 (the rest of the crew), that’s about $64 million alone — just for labor.”
UPDATE: Simpson would add engineers to the design team, “which would be crucial for the project.”
Back to the Post story: “The way the work would proceed would be by “taking away the parts that you know don’t need to be there,” working from the top down, Simpson said. He likened it to terracing the side of a mountain, which, in a sense, it is. While the original sculptures were carved using tools such as jackhammers, Simpson noted that building this in 2017 would offer some advantages.
“Technology these days is way more advanced,” he said. “I think a lot of it will still have to be sculpted and removed off the mountain in the same manner that it was in the past, but with the new computer abilities and 3-D scanning, I would think there’s much more equipment that could be used to make it a more accurate and easier process.” Laser locating could allow for much more precise carving, for example, allowing a carver to hit a very particular depth on a section of Trump’s face.”
The mosaic of the feather-haired star, who attended the University of Texas and studied with sculptor Charles Umlauf, was recently finished by Stefanie Distefano for a hair salon, aptly.
We especially like the crop below, since it reminds us somewhat of her famous poster as well as the Andy Warhol print that became the subject of a lawsuit between UT and Fawcett’s longtime main man, Ryan O’Neal.
The Umlauf recently showed an exhibit that documented the artistic link between mentor and student.