Art All Around Us

Austin's whimsical outdoor art installation is about to fall down forever

Austin's whimsical outdoor art installation is about to fall down

Stickwork Pease Park Yippee Ki Yay
Only four of the original five huts remain.  Photo courtesy of Pease Park Conservancy

For the past 18 months, Pease Park has been home to a not-so-secret secret art installation called Yippee Ki Yay. Five freestanding huts composed of willow, elm, and ash sticks and saplings have become one of the city's little darlings, a place for reflection, inspiration, and, yes, a great photo.

But the art piece is quite literally falling apart, and by January 2020, it's estimated it will be gone forever. Of course, this was always the intention.

Yippee Ki Yay was commissioned by Pease Park Conservancy and completed in January 2018 by artist Patrick Dougherty as part of his world-renowned "Stickwork" series. The conservancy, a nonprofit tasked with restoring and protecting the famous park, estimates that more than 180,000 visitors have witnessed the installation since it opened to the public in February 2018.

"'Stickwork' is a wonderful example of art for all, sparking the imagination park patrons and passersby of all ages," said Kristen Brown, CEO of Pease Park Conservancy, in a 2018 release announcing the installation. 

To create the Yippee Ki Yay (which, like other Stickwork pieces, wasn't named until after completion), Dougherty sourced materials from Stonewall, Texas. Volunteers joined Dougherty on the Custer's Meadow portion of the park to help construct the huts. As part of his creative process, the artist did not sketch or plan his idea prior to installation, instead using the materials as inspiration.

Sadly, one of the park's huts has already fallen victim to Mother Nature, leaving just four structures standing. As the remaining huts collapse, indigenous materials from the installation will be mulched and used in projects around Pease Park. 

According to a rep for the conservancy, the estimate of the rest of Yippee Ki Yay falling down by January 2020 comes from the artist, who has built more than 200 similar structures across the globe.

For a piece that is meant to illustrate the impermanence of things, it's still sad to see Yippee Ki Yay succumb to nature. Make sure to visit this whimsical Austin treasure before it all falls down ... for good.