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UCA's Baum Gallery prepares for community-centric installation

Posted: August 28, 2014 - 5:12pm
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"Simple Pleasures," a Patrick Dougherty work, is on display at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine.
"Simple Pleasures," a Patrick Dougherty work, is on display at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine.

The Baum Gallery of Fine Art at the University of Central Arkansas is seeking volunteers for its upcoming installation that turns ordinary sticks and saplings found in nature into a large-scale sculpture.

North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty will use his “stick works” concept to create a three-dimensional work on UCA’s campus with the help of the Conway community.

Barclay McConnell, director of the Baum Gallery in McCastlain Hall, said the project is a perfect way for local residents to come together for the arts.

“What I’m hoping in regards to the community is that it will be a community-building experience,” she said. “They will feel ownership in this sculpture.”

McConnell said the installation is similar to “basket-weaving architecture” on a large scale.

Volunteers will spend three days next week, Sept. 2-4, gathering sticks and saplings at two wooded areas in Conway to complete the first phase of constructing the sculpture.

McConnell said shifts are available from 1-5 p.m. Sept. 2 and from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 3-4 to help with the collecting process.

To volunteer during the installation construction process, visit uca.edu/art/baum. About 90-100 spots are available each day Sept. 2-4.

Once the gathering is completed, work begins Sept. 5 on building the scaffolding and constructing the sculpture. Construction will last through Sept. 19.

Dougherty will hold a public lecture at 1:40 p.m. Sept. 18 in McCastlain Hall room 143 to discuss is his art style.

The completed structure will be unveiled at 11 a.m. Sept. 20. Baum Gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.

In addition to the installation itself, McConnell said she hopes to partner with Conway ArtsFest next month to add a performing arts element through dance to visitors of Dougherty’s work.

She also has her sights set on having the Conway Symphony Orchestra perform at the installation.

When located outside in front of the gallery, McConnell said the installation will be visible from Donaghey Avenue.

The Dougherty installation is years in the making. Dougherty visited UCA’s campus last year to get a more concrete idea of the location.

“We’ve had him on the books for years now,” McConnell said. “You have to book him years in advance.”

McConnell said Baum Gallery spent about $20,000 for Dougherty to come to UCA and an additional $12,000 for trip expenses and construction equipment costs.

After a period of debate regarding the sculpture’s location, UCA President Tom Courtway prohibited Baum Gallery earlier this year from placing the installation at its original location in Alumni Circle. The move followed concerns related to its sense of semi-permanence on campus for up to three years.

McConnell said the gallery is in discussions to have a live feed available for art enthusiasts to view Dougherty’s work offsite.

She added that local students are invited to visit campus to see Dougherty’s work.

Specific dimensions and design details will not be known until the project is completed. “We really don’t know what he’s going to do,” McConnell said.

The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville is home to another of Dougherty’s works.

“I think public art is the ideal medium,” McConnell said, explaining the potential for additional community artwork of a similar aesthetic.

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