Patrick Dougherty: A site-specific installation

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
Patrick Dougherty: A site-specific installation
Curated by: Signe Mayfield

1313 Newell Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
January 11th, 2011 - March 31st, 2011
Opening: January 11th, 2011 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Peninsula/South Bay
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday; and 7-9 p.m. Thursday
photography, installation, landscape
Free to the Public


PALO ALTO, CA – December 6, 2010 – A sustainable installation by sculptor Patrick Dougherty kicks off two Palo Alto Art Center winter exhibitions—all of which focus on art at the juncture of landscape and architecture

PATRICK DOUGHERTY:  A site-specific installation

January 30, 2011- January 30, 2012

The Palo Alto Art Center is honored to present a monumental, site-specific installation by Patrick Dougherty, one of the nation’s most prominent environmental sculptors.  The public may view the artist’s creative process during his three week artist residency, January 11- 28, 2011, on the grounds of the Palo Alto Art Center.


Identified as the Jackson Pollock of saplings by art critic John Perreault, Patrick Dougherty is a process-oriented artist whose lyrical, organic works are created specifically for each site. Made from local and renewable willow saplings, his works embody natural life cycles, changing over time as the sticks settle and decay, eventually returning to the earth from which they grew.  Dougherty has created over 200 monumental site-specific installations on the grounds of major museums, universities, botanical gardens, and private residences worldwide. The resulting works evoke a wide array of natural forms, ranging from nests to objects with a transparent architecture, like woodland dwellings, or basketry.


Environmental sensitivity is a major concern for the artist. Saplings are gathered from maintained sources so that the branches grow back to make new sticks for future uses. Dougherty does not use any artificial supports in his constructions because the inherent properties of saplings cause them to snag and entangle easily.


While there is a signature quality to his work, each of his compelling sculptures relates specifically to the physical site in a unique way. Dougherty believes that ideas percolate at the actual venue and that “the success of a piece lies in capturing the essence of a place and then playing with what you make of that essence.” Unlike other sculptors, he initially conceives of his work by making a series of word associations on both the physical and social qualities of a site. He is conscious of drawing in space, as he weaves sticks with lighter and darker colors and varying widths and lengths.

This project is commissioned by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation and co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Public Art Commission. It is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

THE NATURE OF ENTANGLEMENTS January 11, 2011-March 31, 2011

The Nature of Entanglements presents photographs of Patrick Dougherty’s site specific installations in Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and California. As Dougherty completes his three week artist residency at the Palo Alto Art Center, photographs of his creative process will be added to the exhibition.


The exhibition features delicate bird’s nests entangled with feathers and found natural materials for which Dougherty’s monumental constructions have a strong kinship. Such nests are at the core of inspiration for the anonymous individuals who reverently created historic Native American baskets in the exhibition. Reaffirming the continuing relationship of art, nature, and human culture are striking contemporary basketry and works with entangled forms by Ruth Asawa, Timothy Berry, Dominic Di Mare, Gyongy Laky and Kay Sekimachi.


The exhibition has received support from Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

Associated Public Programs

January 27, 2011, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Lecture by Patrick Dougherty – Limited seated/Advance registration suggested

Reception for exhibitions to follow Patrick Dougherty's lecture until 9 p.m.

Interactive Project, January 11, 2011-March 31, 2011

The public is invited to contribute to an ongoing interactive project in the Foyer Gallery. Experience constructing an unusual dwelling by weaving and wrapping a variety of materials in our lobby gallery.


ART DIALOGUES: Free adult docent tours Saturdays at 2 p.m. For information or to arrange a private tour, please call 650.329.2366.


The Palo Alto Art Center is open to the public without charge. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10-5 p.m.; Thursday, 7-9 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Visit our website at or call 650.329.2366 for more information.

The Palo Alto Art Center (founded 1971) is a nationally acclaimed, regional visual art

center whose exhibition program focuses on documenting—and celebrating—the art and

artists of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Center's mission is to foster creative process

and thought by forging a greater appreciation and understanding of the visual arts

through exhibitions, studio experiences and related educational programs. The Palo Alto

Art Center, Division of Arts and Sciences, City of Palo Alto is funded in part by grants

from the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, Arts Council Silicon Valley, in partnership

with the County of Santa Clara and the California Arts Council, and private donations.