Yippee Ki Yay! Austin has its own Stickwork sculpture in Pease Park

Have you ever seen a bowerbird’s elaborate, woven-twig structure? That’s what the Stickwork creations of North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty remind me of. I’ve admired his twiggy sculptures in other cities and gardens. And now we have one in Austin at Pease Park.

Titled Yippee Ki Yay, Austin’s Stickwork consists of 5 woven-branch structures that resemble slumping hay bales, with slanted oval windows and doors. (From above they look like mushy alphabet-soup letters.) It’s sculpture with which you’re meant to interact, to touch, to walk inside…

…or perhaps to play hide-and-seek in.

The weaving itself is fascinating.

In some ways it resembles an oversized bird’s nest.

Of course the artist and his helpers have hands. Imagine how birds do this, with only beak and claw.

The straw huts lean fancifully, as if peering over each other’s shoulders.

The short passageways inside them twist and turn, maze-like.

Gazing through tilted, twiggy windows, you see frame after frame after frame.

If you visit, you can frame yourself.

In a Statesman interview, Dougherty says he expects a Stickwork to have one great year, then one pretty good year, and then start to fall apart. When it’s finally ready to be condemned, the sticks will be shredded and turned into mulch for park plantings. Ashes to ashes and twigs to mulch.

The sculpture is already open to the public, but a public opening ceremony is scheduled for next Saturday, February 10th, from 1 to 3 pm, and even the mayor will be there. Now that sounds like a “yippee ki yay” kind of celebration.

By the way, if you were one of the many local volunteers who helped build this Stickwork, I hope you’ll leave a comment telling us what it was like, or what the artist is like, or anything interesting you learned about weaving a giant stick house.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.

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16 Responses

  1. Pat Webster says:

    Yippee ki yay looks like lots of fun. I’ve seen Dougherty’s work in other places and would love to know more about how the pieces are constructed. I hope some of the volunteers will comment.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I hope so too. From what I’ve read, locally sourced invasive species were used, like ligustrum, and volunteers helped strip leaves off the limbs. Bundled branches were set in holes in the ground, like columns, and then the structure was woven around those. —Pam

  2. I have always wanted to see one of these sculptures in person. I find them so enchanting.

  3. ks says:

    I went to Tower Hill in Mass last August and there was a Dougherty installation there. I think my big question is where does all the material come from ? I would think the Austin sculptre would have different plants than a sculpture in Massachusetts.Or perhaps they truck in twigs from other regions that are suitable for this type of work. Wasn’t there one near our hotel at Fling last summer ? I missed it but I feel like I heard conversations about it.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Articles about Austin’s Stickwork said the materials are always locally sourced. In our case, they came from a nearby ranch and the park itself and consist mainly of invasive species like ligustrum. So it’s a win-win that they’re cut down and repurposed into art.

      There was a Stickwork in Reston near our Fling hotel last summer. I have pictures in this post, if you’re curious. —Pam

  4. Jenny says:

    We’ll take a drive by there today. Once saw some like this in Ketchum Idaho. I think they must have been done by him. DO you know whether his source of tis was local?

  5. Jeanne says:

    We had an installation at Northern Illinois U. in the late 90’s when I was in school. They were very impressive.

  6. Gail says:

    I do love his work. He had a show at Cheekwood a few years ago and then we did see an installation in the Reston Town Center DC/VA Fling last summer.

  7. Kate S. says:

    Clever use of invasives!

  8. Tay Tolley Cutter says:

    Hi, Pam! I shared your blog on FB as more info for the exhibit, and that you are a former Gullett parent. Btw, I’ve seen you, too, on Central Texas Gardener. So happy for you in finding your passion and making a living doing it. Inspiring.

    And if you ever want a blank canvas to ponder ideas, come take a look at my yard, hahaha (but seriously…). ;)


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