Arts Community Connections

What’s going up on Embarcadero Road? Stop by and find out!

How cool that Patrick Dougherty just spent two weeks in Palo Alto building his newest sculpture? Check it out on Embaradero Road.

If you loved that beautiful natural sculpture that was on Newell Road made of twigs and branches, we have good news: Artist Patrick Dougherty is creating a new piece on Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto. And even better news: You’re invited to stop by and watch him in action.

From now until November 18th, Mr. Dougherty will be on Embarcadero Road every day, weaving twigs, branches and other organic elements into a magical, organic design. His new piece is sure to evoke the same joyful response as “Double Take,” which was outside the Palo Alto Art Center from 2011 until last June.

Double Take was outside the Palo Alto Art Center until last June. Photo credit: Stephanie Lee

Double Take was next to the Palo Alto Art Center until last June. Photo credit: Stephanie Lee

Crowdfunding helped bring the artist back to Palo Alto

Double Take” became such a beloved local landmark that the Palo Alto Public Art Commission took the unusual step of asking Patrick Dougherty to come back and do another piece. A crowdfunding campaign launched last spring by the Palo Alto Alto Art Center quickly raised the $15,000 required to engage the artist, thanks to the outpouring of support from the local community.

“Art you can touch, engage with, climb into and experience…”

“Patrick Dougherty’s sculptures capture the imaginations of all who experience them,” said Art Center Director Karen Kienzle. “Our last sculpture, ‘Double Take,’ received thousands of visitors during its lifetime, inspired several documentary films and thousands of photographs. This is art you can touch, engage with, climb into, and experience..”

Patrick Doughtery at work on his new sculpture. Photo by Palo Alto Pulse.

Patrick Dougherty at work on his new sculpture. Photo by Palo Alto Pulse.

Dougherty’s new piece is a partnership between the Palo Alto Public Art Commission and the Palo Alto Art Center, which worked together to make it possible for the artist to return to Palo Alto.

An organic process guided by nature

Mr. Dougherty doesn’t make drawings ahead of time, and instead lets the natural elements guide his process, weaving twigs and branches out in the open and with a team of volunteers to help him.

As described in a story in the New York Times, “Mr. Dougherty is a very good storyteller. And there is always a story, because each piece takes at least three weeks to make, blooms before a rapt and sometimes fractious audience, and depends on the efforts of a fresh team of volunteers new to stickwork, over which Mr. Dougherty presides like an enthusiastic Outward Bound leader.”

Take a break and observe this amazing sculptor at work

So the next time you are zooming down Embarcadero Road, consider taking a minute to get out of your car and check out what Mr. Dougherty is doing. You can drop in anytime during the day from now until he finishes on November 18th.  And if you have more time, you may even be able to help Mr. Dougherty as he builds.

When we stopped by, it was so cool to watch him weaving the branches to make beautiful twisting shapes on a cloudless fall afternoon. Stay for five minutes or as long as you can; it’s a unique opportunity to observe this internationally-acclaimed environmental artist in action.

Volunteering to help build the new sculpture is fun! Photo by Palo Alto Pulse.

Volunteering to help build the new sculpture is fun! Photo by Palo Alto Pulse.

More details…
  • Stop by and check out the artist in action: Patrick Dougherty will be building his sculpture at the corner of Embarcadero and Newell Road from now until November 18th. Stop by any time during the day.
  • Volunteer to help build the sculpture: A small number of volunteers are invited to help Patrick build.  To learn more, contact Grace Abusharkh, Art Center Director of Volunteer Engagement at grace.abusharkh@cityofpaloalto.org.
  • Learn more about the artist: The public is invited to attend a free lecture by Patrick Dougherty about his artwork and methods on November 16, 7 p.m., at the Palo Alto Art Center.
An arch is emerging in Patrick Doughtery's new sculpture. Photo by Palo Alto Pulse.

An arch is emerging in Patrick Dougherty’s new sculpture. Photo by Palo Alto Pulse.

About the author

Victoria Thorp

Victoria Thorp

Victoria is the founder and editor of Palo Alto Pulse and has lived in Palo Alto since 2007. Victoria's diverse professional background includes working as the editor of GreatSchools.org , as a senior writer for KIPP and Teach for America, and as a radio producer for City Visions on KALW (91.7FM San Francisco). She is a graduate of Leadership Palo Alto and a member of the Palo Alto Partners in Education Advisory Board.

She has a BA in English from Tufts University and Masters in Education and Secondary Teaching Credential in English from UCLA.

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