Patrick Dougherty's immersive stickwork sculpture is officially open to the public at the Chatfield Farms location of the Denver Botanic Gardens.
The featured work was created over three weeks by weaving flexible saplings and branches together into a twisted maze that visitors can walk through and explore. The piece is artist Patrick Dougherty's 300th large-scale sculpture and was originally inspired by the coils of Colorado rattlesnakes. Dougherty's immersive sculptures are created using saplings that are locally and sustainably harvested, and many have lasted for years on display.
Artist Patrick Dougherty presents his newest work at the Chatfield Farms.
"We didn't want it that far off of the walkway, so that people would be willing to venture. Sometimes if it's off in the field, you'll look at it and say 'I saw it' but you really didn't get to see the beauty of how it works architecturally inside."
Volunteers spread mud along open areas where the sticks have been trimmed to dim the color and tuck away stray sticks.
The piece is expected to last about two years or more and will naturally decompose. "Some places where the walls collapse, they open up, there's a whole lot of space. All of those were determined at the time we laid out our extension chords. I hope you'll shove it as hard as you can because you'll realize it's very tough. There's always the concern of 'Can it last through weather?' It has no top on it so it's not going to gain too much snow. Also, the interconnectedness makes it really windproof."
Dougherty's work can be found at about four or five different locations around Colorado, including the Museum of Outdoor Arts. So far, he claims it's his best.
"I always claim that the piece I'm working on, I love. That's the place that we've done our most recent problem-solving. Every sculpture is a problem-solving event where you try to make something look beautiful and enticing and make something that people want to run over and take a look at."
"We've all been children, so this work rings a lot of bells in terms of sticks as an imaginative object. When you're a kid you pick up sticks everywhere and use them and see the utility of them. I always think of that as a kind of a way to get in touch to our hunting and gathering past. So [...] when the public walks up to it, they bring all of their positive associations with the forest."
"I always say a good sculpture is one that causes a lot of personal associations in the viewer, that they bring something to it, and that there's a starting point for looking at it. [...] There's huge pleasure in something that's well designed and has a lot of spaces and you feel like there's a sense of exploration."
Have you visited the new immersive installation at Chatfield Farms? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.