Thursday, February 26, 2009
Patrick Dougherty and The Upper Crust
Patrick Dougherty and his crew finished their sculpture in the trees of Civic Center Plaza on Tuesday afternoon.
Dougherty is pictured above in the middle and is flanked by the young artists Jamie Banes, John Melvin, Andy Lynch and Dave Lovejoy who labored in the rain and wind for the last three weeks constructing the piece. (Jesse Hensel, the fifth assistant, is not pictured.)
The sculpture has acquired an official name, "The Upper Crust," which may have something to do with the wealthy patrons Dougherty was dealing with on the San Francisco Art Commission, but Patrick was keeping a tactful silence when I asked him if that was the case.
"The title partly refers to the work being an upper crust on the existing trees, and it definitely gets a bit crusty on the ground around here," he explained.
I asked his assistants if the local street people were a problem when they were constructing the sculpture and they said no, it was part of what made the experience so fascinating. "I've never interacted with so many authentically crazy people in my life," one of them said. "The questions were amazing."
The original plan was to have two sets of sculptures mirroring each other across the plaza but the work required two trees rather than one for supporting the nest structures, and in a bout of improvisation, they decided to use all the materials in one linked area.
"Are you happy with the way it turned out?" I asked Dougherty. "Yes, I am," he replied with real contentment. It will be fascinating to see how the piece evolves as the trees sprout their leaves over spring and summer.