Fort Worth

Fort Worth Botanic Garden Exhibit Encourages Visitors to ‘Play Hooky'

An organic sculpture at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and Botanic Research Institute of Texas is called 'Play Hooky.'

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The Fort Worth Botanic Garden has a new interactive, organic art exhibit that encourages visitors to see plants in a new way.

"We are calling the piece 'Playing Hooky', artist Patrick Dougherty said. "Because maybe you'd skip out for the day and take a look at the work, and lounge around in it, and explore, discover."

The crew from Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty and volunteers spent three weeks building a five-part sculpture. It's a twist of twigs and saplings that were collected, with permission, from 40 different locations across Tarrant County.

Dougherty said his medium of choice is different, and sometimes eyebrow-raising.

"When we start hauling our sticks, the same neighbors that call the police the first day are asking you to dinner the last day," Dougherty laughed. "We're turning every piece of trash into treasure."

Some of the sculpting process was completed during February's snowstorm and deep freeze.

"Yes, we were caught in the polar vortex," Dougherty said. "Even though the Garden was closed, we were out there working."

"The thing that surprised me the most was how quickly it came together after he got started," Fort Worth Botanic Garden Assistant Director Bob Byers said. "Fort Worth has a very large art community, so we wanted to do something that would appeal to that particular group of folks."

"This kind of work draws a person into the natural world, reminds them of the significance of having a good walk in the woods," Dougherty said.

Dougherty said his artwork is inspired by nature.

"If you present something they really like, you can forgive the fact that it's not in a museum. They might even forgive you for calling it a sculpture," Dougherty said. "The importance of sculpture, in general, is that it extends people's ability to feel."

The Garden wants visitors to interact with the exhibit, to peer through its "'windows," take photos and walk through it.

"When you do something like this, it really causes people to focus on plants, what they do, and how they work," Byers said. "I think from a perspective as a public garden, that's very important."

By nature of the materials used, the "Playing Hooky' exhibit is temporary. Dougherty said it should last about 2-years.

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