Artist talk with Patrick Dougherty on Monday, February 23

Please join us for an

Monday, February 23, 2009
6:30 to 8 pm

San Francisco City Hall
Room 400
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

This event is free and open to the public.


Installation at Civic Center Plaza

An environmental sculpture installation by artist Patrick Dougherty comprised of 18,000 lbs. of freshly cut willow saplings interwoven into the treetops of the sycamore trees in Civic Center Plaza

WHEN: Installation Work in Progress: February 5-26, 2009; Sculpture on View: February 2009 to November 2009, pending authorization to extend exhibition from the Recreation and Park Department

SPONSOR: The San Francisco Arts Commission with Art Enrichment funding from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission With special thanks to Mayor Gavin Newsom

CONTACT: Jill Manton, San Francisco Arts Commission, 415-252-2585


On February 5, 2009, artist Patrick Dougherty and a crew of five assistants began the process of creating an environmental artwork entitled The Upper Crust which consists of a series of sculptural forms made with recycled willow saplings at the Joseph L. Alioto Performing Arts Piazza, across from San Francisco’s City Hall. The artist carefully weaves the recycled willow branches through the sycamore tree branches to emerge through the treetops. The sculptural forms rise to a height of approximately 8 feet above the top of the trees. The sculptural form is created by the artist without an internal structure, wire, hardware or any outside means of attachment. The artist explains that twigs and saplings have a propensity to entangle and intertwine with everything. Dougherty bends and flexes the material resulting in a joyful and exuberant collision of art and nature in his large cocoon or hive like forms.

The sculpture will continue to evolve in appearance with the seasons as the trees begin to bear leaves in the spring and as the foliage changes color and the trees loose leaves in autumn. Three of the assistants hired to assist with the installation are local San Francisco artists.

The willow branches used in the sculpture are a natural by-product of the pruning and life cycle of the willow trees. The saplings used range in size from finger to wrist width. The saplings were obtained from The Willow Farm in Pescadero. Some of the trees from which the saplings were obtained are more than 50 years old.

Arts Commission staff will be on site week days between 12:00 noon and 1:00 PM to provide information about the project. After the sculpture is completed by the artist in late February, the Arts Commission will provide a free docent tour for the public on the first Tuesday of every month from 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM.

Patrick Dougherty is an internationally recognized sculptor who uses tree saplings as his artistic medium. His interest in nature and its inherent magic dates back to his youth in rural North Carolina where he would build trees houses, forts, lean-tos and hide-outs to the delight of his many younger siblings. His work, which is created by interweaving branches and twigs together, alludes to nests, cocoons, hives, and lairs built by animals, as well as the manmade forms of huts, haystacks, and baskets. His work typically appears ‘found’ rather than made, as if the natural forces of a tornado had created it. Dougherty intentionally tries for this effortless effect, as if his creations just fell from the sky in a gust of wind or grew up naturally in their settings.

Patrick Dougherty has created nearly 200 site-specific sculptures in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia over the past 20 years. His work has been displayed at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash., and the American Crafts Museum in New York City, among other places.

Dougherty has received many honors and awards, including the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant, the Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship and several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Dougherty’s work has been the subject of more than 100 articles and reviews in publications including The New York Times and the Washington Post. He resides in North Carolina with his wife and family. His work may be viewed on his website at

About the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Public Art Program

Established by charter in 1932, the San Francisco Arts Commission is the City agency that champions the arts in San Francisco. Led by the belief that a creative cultural environment is essential to the City’s well-being, the Arts Commission programs permeate all aspects of City life. Programs include: Civic Art Collection, Civic Design Review, Community Arts & Education, Cultural Equity Grants, Public Art, SFAC Gallery, Street Artist Licensing, and summer in the City Concert Series.

The Arts Commission’s Public Art Program was established by City ordinance in 1969, as one of the first of its kind in the country. The Public Art Program seeks to promote a diverse and stimulating cultural environment to enrich the lives of the city’s residents, visitors and employees. The Program encourages the creative interaction of artists, designers, city staff, officials and community members during the design of City projects in order to develop public art that is specific to the site and meaningful to the community.

Tags: , ,  |  Tag Cloud

San Francisco Arts Commission

401 Van Ness, Ste. 325
San Francisco, CA 94102

Contact Us

Subscribe to our email newsletter and get updates in your inbox.