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Orenco Woods Nature Park will be site of Patrick Dougherty stickwork installation

COURTESY PHOTO: ROB CARDILLO - Patrick Dougherty's 'A Waltz in the Woods' was constructed in 2015 at Morris Arboretum at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.What looks like a burn pile of tree trimmings here in the Pacific Northwest might look like a 15-foot-tall woven wine bottle or a 40-foot long swath of graceful, swirling circles to artist Patrick Dougherty.

Dougherty, a world-renowned sculptor makes his art out of tree saplings, branches and twigs — and nothing more. He bends and twists saplings and branches until they begin to intertwine and form a frame, then adds and rearranges until they begin to take the form he envisions.

“It’s just persistence that holds it together,” Dougherty said of his sculptures.COURTESY PHOTO: ROB CARDILLO - A view from inside Patrick Dougherty' 'A Waltz in the Woods,' constructed in 2015 at Morris Arboretum of UPA in Philadelphia.

His monumental-sized installations can be found across the United States, from Hawaii to Florida and around the world — from Japan to Belgrade, Serbia.

“Anyone who has encountered one of Patrick’s sculptures never forgets — the surprise, disbelief, intrigue, wonder,” said Valerie Otani, the city of Hillsboro’s Public Art Program Supervisor.

COURTESY PHOTO: RICK PAULSON - Patrick Dougherty meets with parks and construction officials at Orenco Woods Nature Park to check out possible sites to build a stickwork sculpture this coming spring.Dougherty, who lives in North Carolina and travels the world completing about 10 installations a year, was in Hillsboro last week checking out the site that will house one of his works: the new Orenco Woods Nature Park located at the site of the former Orenco Woods Golf Course, west of Cornelius Pass Road and north of Quatama Road.

COURTESY PHOTO: RICK PAULSON - Patrick Dougherty meets with parks and construction officials at Orenco Woods Nature Park to check out possible sites to build a stickwork sculpture this coming spring.Construction of the park got underway this spring and when finished will feature a network of nature trails and well as amenities like picnic shelters, a nature play area and restrooms.

“Extensive habitat restoration will reforest the creek corridor, enhance wetlands, and create oak savannah habitat in areas of the former golf fairways,” according to the park and recreation website.

Dougherty told an audience at a reception in Hillsboro last week he has a spot in mind for his creation after a visit to Orenco Woods. There’s a line of conifers that “at first look staid, almost wall-like,” Dougherty said. “Step inside and there’s a magical world.”

He met with Orenco neighbors and historians on his visit and “has a basis for his thinking,” Otani said.

His most recent installation was at author Astrid Lindgren’s (“Pippi Longstocking” books) childhood home in Vimmerby, Sweden. There, Dougherty used willow and witch hazel to create “Lucky Seven,” seven jar-shaped sculptures, 12 to 16 feet high. Children are free to tuck their wishes and dreams in the jars, reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking putting messages in a bottle.COURTESY PHOTO: RICK PAULSON - Artist Patrick Dougherty speaks with members of the Hillsboro arts community at a reception held last week during Dougherty's visit to town.

Bringing Dougherty to Hillsboro began about two year ago, according to Otani. It takes that long to get onto his busy schedule. “We thought his work would be a great match for one of our Hillsboro parks,” Otani added. At that time, she didn’t have Orenco Woods Nature Park in mind. It was serendipity that his schedule fit perfectly with the opening of the new park, slated for spring of 2017.

In April 2017, Dougherty will travel to Hillsboro again. Otani said she hopes to have most of the materials already collected for his sculpture. Much of it will be willow, she said.

Dougherty’s process take about three weeks, two of those to involve community volunteers in helping build the installation. He said he enjoys the flexibility of working with branches and saplings, which allows him the ability to adjust the scale of his work. “It takes awhile to get the subtleties of the space,” Dougherty said.

Otani looks forward to April and involving the community in helping build the installation. “He’s so open to sharing and making time to engage with the community,” she said.

As for Dougherty, the outdoors is his studio and he enjoys sharing his studio with others. “There are no studio doors to close and no place to hide. The energy of the people in that place somehow folds into the sculpture.”

Dougherty's installations generally last about two years before needing to be removed. Otani believes the temporary nature of his sculptures fits well in a nature park and speaks to the changing nature of natural materials.

"It focuses you in a certain way," creating an immediacy to "get there and see it," she said. "The intensity of the experience continues to live in your memory."

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