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New public art project headed for Pease Park

Renowned artist Patrick Dougherty ‘Stickwork’ piece to grace Austin’s oldest park

Whimsical stick house/structure in park
Summer Palace (2009) by Patrick Dougherty, Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA.
Rob Cardillo, courtesy of LookThinkMake/Patrick Dougherty

Pease Park Conservancy, keepers of Austin’s oldest park and much-beloved public park just west of downtown, will be soon bringing a major new piece of public art to the space.

Patrick Dougherty, whose internationally acclaimed Stickwork project now has placed more than 275 distinct pieces in public spaces world from Australia to France, will create an original piece for the series to reside in the 84-acre park, which winds along Shoal Creek just west of downtown.

Dougherty’s site-specific structure will used locally harvested saplings (gathered by a local arborist who is volunteering for the work) and will likely inhabit the whimsical, interactive spirit of other works in the series.

It will take about three weeks to build the piece, and Dougherty will be onsite every day to guide to process. Austin volunteers will be invited to help and will be scheduled in single-day shifts to collaborate on the project in a process designed to make the art both for and by the community.

Series of stick structures/scupltures at twilight
Out in Front (2013) by Patrick Dougherty, Sarasota Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla.
Photo by Dick Dickinson, courtesy of LookThinkMake/Patrick Dougherty
Two people working on scaffolding on large stick sculpture in park
Sortie de Cave/Free At Last (2008) by Patrick Dougherty, in progress. Located in Chateaubourg, France,
Charles Crié, courtesy of LookThinkMake/Patrick Dougherty

The Stickwork piece is part of the Pease Park Master Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2014. The plan, through a public-private partnership, is meant to provide a “unified vision” for the space that “both preserves the natural environment and thoughtfully enhances the park with a few state-of-the-art amenities that will greatly improve the visitor experience,” according to a Conservancy statement.

The first phase, for which the Conservancy is raising funds, is called “Kingsbury Commons,” and is essentially a reimagining and enhancement of the existing entrance area at Kingsbury and Parkway, just west of North Lamar Boulevard. Current features such as the playground, splash pad, and concrete picnic tables (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s) will be enhanced and joined by a new stone terrace.

Rendering of people in a park with central lawn and old stone entrances on either side of entrance
Rendering of planned “Kingsbury Commons” at Pease Park
Courtesy of LookThinkMake

The site will also feature the historic Tudor cottage perched on the hillside overlooking the picnic tables and open lawn. Designed by noted architecture firm Giesecke & Harris and built in the mid-1920s, the structure will be adaptively repurposed as a community gathering space.

Map of long park
Pease Park Master Plan
Courtesy of LookThinkMake