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I was leafing through Lagniappe today and came across an article by Doug MacCash, about a guy named Charlie Bishop who noticed a hunk of concrete in City Park and labeled it a sculpture. As far as I can tell, no one else has bought into this idea, except possibly MacCash, who labels Bishop a “conceptual artist.” Marcel Duchamp is cited as a precedent.

I thought this was just about the coolest thing I’d read in a while.

Persephone was sitting on my lap as I read. She pointed to the accompanying picture and asked “What’s that?”

So I attached her seat to the old bicycle and we made our way to City Park in search of this (possible) sculpture. I wasn’t confident that we’d be able to find it. I told Persephone we’d have to hunt for it. As we rode around the park I kept asking her if she saw it. Her consistent reply: “Everywhere.” I’m not sure exactly what she meant by that. Perhaps she was saying the park itself was a work of art. Perhaps she was simply trying to one-up Bishop and Duchamp.

But, amazingly enough, we found it.

Sculptural Pilgrimage

I have to agree with Bishop. This thing does have a certain resonance. It does have a “sad and lonely” feel. I didn’t think it was “tragically ugly,” though. I found it beautiful.

After our visit to Koan (Bishop’s proposed name for the piece) we went over the footbridge to the playground, and after a while we ended up in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. It’s free, and as anyone who’s been there will attest, it’s fantastic. Persephone was particularly taken by the giant three-sided Rodrigue blue (and red and yellow) dog.

But personally I thought Koan ranked right up there with the acknowledged sculptures in Besthoff. I hope that City Park has the fortitude and imagination to label Koan as a sculpture. Furthermore, I hope they credit Bishop as the artist, rather than follow his suggestion of Anonymous.

True, he didn’t make it, but he recognized it, and he deserves some credit for making us see the world around us with fresh eyes.

The concrete structure that is Koan was once a “plug” that was used to fill a cavity in a tree. As MacCash writes, “In time, the tree disappeared, though the plug remains.” I couldn’t help but notice a number of other such sculptures appear to be in progress in the immediate vicinity. Some might take a hundred years to come into their glory. Others, not so long.

Sculpture in Progress

Perhaps some day there will be an entire collection here. It might be called the Bishop Sculpture Garden.

Stranger things have happened.

In the meantime, a tip of the hat to Doug MacCash for writing an article that quite literally made my day, and my daughter’s too. And hats off to Charlie Bishop. You rock.

Published inArtsyNew OrleansPix


  1. I have to get over to look at these. The idea that this is a work in progress by nature, of the conversion of some dead trees into their remaining plugs. its a fantastic thing to watch unfold. Persephone may be taking your grand children there to see this. And how cool is that.

  2. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    The Dutch Elm Disease wiped out all the big stately trees in
    the parks in Colorado, from the sixties on… it was sad. I wonder, looking at these
    shots of the park, is there not any new-tree planting to recycle the park??
    You have to protect the newbies with guy-wires and block-wall and fencing and stuff for them to survive normal human-monkey vandalism. I know…

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