"The Big Easy"


A sudden farewell...

We regret to announce that "The Big Easy" became too unstable to keep in place any longer, so we had to dismantle it on Aug. 22, a few months earlier than anticipated. Unusually wet weather and flooding this year have taken too great a toll on this beloved sculpture. So after consulting with the artist, we agreed that it would be best to remove it.  

"I want to thank everyone in the Duke and Durham communities for their wonderful reactions to—and interactions with—this, our first large-scale art installation," Duke Gardens Executive Director Bill LeFevre said Tuesday. 

We have loved seeing people joyfully interact with this alluring public artwork, from children scurrying through its doors and passages to Duke students taking intriguing Instagram selfies, or young artists gathering to draw inspiration for their own creative pursuits. We hope you have had a chance enjoy the sculpture during its 18 months here.

A happy addendum

The finials from the sculpture will remain in locations throughout Duke Gardens for awhile longer! Read more on our blog.

More about the sculpture & artist: Installed on Duke Gardens' South Lawn in spring 2017, "The Big Easy" joins Dougherty’s worldwide body of more than 250 whimsical stickwork sculptures. Dougherty’s vision for each of his sculptures develops as he considers how it will fit into the surrounding landscape, and how changing natural light will transform it through the seasons. Look around you. Can you see echoes of Duke Gardens in this sculpture?

This interactive artwork was created over three weeks using sticks collected in partnership with Duke Forest. Dougherty, who is based in Chapel Hill, led a collaborative process that included his team and Gardens staff and volunteers, to collect and weave the sticks into these intriguing natural forms.

Read more about Patrick Dougherty on his website.

Damage to "The Big Easy"

Months of heavy rain and flooding have compromised the stability of "The Big Easy," as this fallen section illustrates. Photo by Bobby Mottern.