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Three Oaks native to serve as artist’s lead assistant

Published 8:39am Tuesday, April 1, 2014



“Stickwork” sculptor Patrick Dougherty has a kindred spirit in Rick Tuttle.

As such, the Three Oaks native will fill the role of Dougherty’s No. 1 assistant for three weeks in April at Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve. Tuttle, 62, of nearby Three Oaks, Mich., will be helping to direct crews of several volunteers covering 42 four-hour shifts. The first phase will be gathering the sticks – mostly willow saplings from a site along U.S. 31 that is routinely maintained and trimmed back.

The second and final phase will be putting the sticks together to form a huge sculpture.

Like Dougherty, Tuttle is fond of building things. He is an artist who works in materials ranging from oil paint to leather (bookbinding) to wood (furniture and assemblage). “I’m very lucky to work for a cabinet maker in town” (Three Oaks), Tuttle says. “If I have a disappointment in life, I pack up my tools and go to his shop, and then everything’s better.”

Tuttle worked in graphic arts in Chicago and moved to Three Oaks about 20 years ago. He owned and operated B Books in Three Oaks for eight years and now runs a small space in that village called The Conversation: at Edington Gallery. He built the Three Oaks Community Garden, including its garden house. He and his wife, Barbara Presti, operate Treeline Farms.

Two years ago he and Presti happened to run across a Dougherty sculpture installation in Hawaii. “It was a wonderful shock – little houses, like you can walk inside and stare out of,” he says. Tuttle, a former poet laureate of Three Oaks, calls Dougherty’s work “very poetic.”

“It’s going to be a beautiful experience,” he says of the Dougherty sculpture work, “and I hope the community takes advantage of it – all of the artists and art lovers and people who love living in the country and with art. They should get out there and feel it for real.”

Tuttle is trying to generate interest among other area artists and galleries to “piggyback” on the Dougherty sculpture by creating or exhibiting works of their own.

He says, for example, “I’d love to see sculptors putting up things in cornfields, and galleries having earth art installations.”


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