Willows weaved into Stickwork Project in Vail

The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson gets a tour of the Stickwork installation with renowned environmental artist Patrick Dougherty at Ford Park in Vail earlier this summer. It took Dougherty and his team, as well as volunteers about three weeks to construct the willow branch installation.
Ben Schleider | Special to the Daily

Have you traveled over to Ford Park and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens lately? If your answer is yes, then you most likely have seen the large stick structures that look like they are swaying in the wind. These mysterious shapes are made out of locally foraged willows and are the handiwork of sculptor Patrick Dougherty and his team of volunteers.

The town of Vail Art in Public Places organization is responsible for bringing North Carolina-based renowned environmental artist Patrick Dougherty to Vail earlier this summer to give our community a whimsical work of art that can be touched, photographed, walked through and talked about.

Between four and six tons of willow sticks were used for the project, which started in early June.

Worldly sticks

For the past 35 years, Dougherty has built over 300 of these types of structures using sticks all over the world. It took him and his team about three weeks to complete the project.

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“Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork installation for Vail far exceeded Art in Public Places’ expectations. The project was fulfilling on many levels and it has been an absolute pleasure to see the reactions to the sculpture from all ages,” said Molly Eppard, of the town of Vail’s Art in Public Places program.

“It is the perfect public art installation for Vail being located in a highly accessible area of Ford Park and enjoyed by all. Its interactive and tactile nature engages the public to be a part of this whimsical installation and appreciate the creative process,” Eppard said.

To learn more about the town of Vail’s Art in Public Places program, visit

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