Artist Patrick Dougherty completed his dramatic stick art sculptures seven months ago in People’s Park, next to Oregon State University’s Gilkey Hall, and the appreciation felt by the campus community has yet to wear off.
Those passing by the nine structures, made of bare sticks and branches from willow, alder and cherry trees, often slow their strides or stop to glance at the shapes, which seem to have been blown there by the wind.
Occasionally a student will pause in the sculpture’s shadow to see that now leaves that have sprouted in verdant patches throughout the structures. Sometimes, older residents with no apparent connection to the university will sit for a long time on one of the two nearby benches, looking at the sculptures, which reach up to 25 feet tall.
Tuesday morning, a group of about 30 Aloha High School ninth-graders explored the sculpture by crawling through the bottom arches.
The students were visiting OSU as part of a college readiness program, and toured campus with Keira Anderson, a freshman majoring in industrial engineering, who works with the College of Engineering’s Pre-College Programs. She often takes groups of touring high school students past the sculpture.
“They think it looks like something from ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ ” Anderson said, referring to the popular illustrated children’s book.
“Almost every time I walk by it, there are people I’ve never see before sitting out there,” said Larry Rodgers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Rodgers, who was familiar with Dougherty’s work after the artist constructed a sculpture at Rodgers’ previous institution, Kansas State University, pulled together various funds from the college’s budget to find $15,000 to commission Dougherty to construct the sculpture. With the help of local volunteers, Dougherty completed the sculpture in just under three weeks.
The sculpture will be taken down after two years, when it begins to decompose, but the university plans to make use of the art until then.
To celebrate commencement, Rodgers said students in the theater arts will add ceremonial headgear to the top of the figure-like sculptures. The decorations will be up for the day on June 17.
The plan is not random; Dougherty did name the sculpture “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.