Visitors to Reston Town Center will notice a prominent new public art piece located near the Greater Reston Arts Center art gallery on Market Street. This sculpture is a creation by Patrick Dougherty, an internationally acclaimed artist who creates enormous art installations out of tree saplings. Helping as a project assistant for this sculpture was Alexandria resident Matthew Harwood. “He is a wonderful person to work with, Pat has quite an artistic following,” said Harwood.
The project is a collaboration between the Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR) and the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE). Reston received a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant to support Patrick Dougherty’s public art project. “Local residents and volunteers have been very excited,” said Anne Delaney, executive director of IPAR. This was the first time IPAR was recipient of a NEA Art Works grant, and it was received on first submission.
In the early 1980s, Dougherty combined interests in carpentry, sculpture, and nature by experimenting with sticks as an art medium. His creations grew in size from single pedestal pieces to enormous environmental works. Over the last 30 years, Dougherty has created more than 250 art pieces in locations around the world. Reston is the host of his latest creation.
On Saturday, April 25 there was an unveiling event hosted by the GRACE at their location on Market Street. Dougherty has done about 10 art projects a year, and upcoming works include a May project at Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass., and a September piece at Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, in Washington, D.C.
The Reston stick sculpture is made of wood, and the design has a ribbon-like quality, as if it were a building in motion. The park is surrounded by towers and hard edges, while Dougherty’s structure is flowing. With a view from one of the neighboring high rises, the sculpture has a fishbowl appearance. Dougherty believes sticks have an innate appeal to most people, and the appeal is timeless, even in this modern age. Most of the wood is harvested truckloads of tree saplings from Willowsford, a community in Loudoun County. Dougherty uses locally sourced sticks in his art pieces, so over the years he has worked in a variety of types of wood, depending on the resources available. Wood used in this piece includes maple, willow, and ash. A sense of flow is present in all the rooms, with flying arches and whimsical walls of the sculpture, there is a cathedral-like feel to the stick structure. There is no ceiling to the piece, and metal support beams provide an overall structural base for the work.
For more information on IPAR, visit www.publicartreston.org.