A Tree Grows in Philly: Roxy Paine’s New Public Art

Roxy Paine, Symbiosis. Photo: courtesy the artist.

The Association for Public Art is bringing Roxy Paine’s 34-tall, over-1.5-ton Symbiosis to Philadelphia. The year-long installation will open May 27 in Iroquois Park at the northern end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Publicly exhibited for the the first time, Symbiosis is from Paine’s “Dendroid” series, which takes its name from the Greek word “dendron,” meaning “tree,” and the suffix “-oid,” which means “form.” The work appear at first glance to be a silvery tree, but closer inspection reveals metal pipes melded into the form. Like much of Paine’s work, the monumental statue reflects a fusion of nature and industry, blurring the boundaries between the organic and the man-made.

“The addition of this enigmatic sculpture to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway—a nexus of remarkable public art, green space, and world-class cultural institutions—enhances Philadelphia’s reputation as one of the premier cities in the country for outdoor sculpture and innovative public art,” Penny Balkin Bach, executive director of the Association for Public Art, said in a press release.

The project has been organized with Philadelphia’s Department of Parks & Recreation and New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery, which represents Paine.

Other examples of Paine’s “Dendroid” sculptures can be found at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, the Montenmedio Arte Contemporaneo NMAC in Cadiz, Spain, the St. Louis Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and Bentonville, Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

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