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“guests will be ushered into the $1.3 billion resort casino through ‘Portal,’ a sculpted iron archway designed by legendary folk artist Bob Dylan”

by Prince Of Petworth September 7, 2016 at 11:10 am 19 Comments

Bob Dylan’s first permanent public sculpture will be installed at MGM National Harbor. courtesy MGM

From a press release:

“When MGM National Harbor opens its doors in Prince George’s County, Maryland later this year, guests will be ushered into the $1.3 billion resort casino through “Portal,” a sculpted iron archway designed by legendary folk artist Bob Dylan. The 26-foot by 15-foot custom piece will adorn the west entrance as part of the property’s art collection and is Dylan’s first permanent work of art for a public space.

Dylan’s “Portal,” a soaring archway that spans 26 feet by 15 feet, will greet visitors as they pass through the west entrance of the new MGM National Harbor, opening later this year. courtesy MGM

“Mr. Dylan is undoubtedly one of the greatest musicians of our time, but his incredible metalwork sculptures are a testament to his creative genius and ability to transcend mediums,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. “As a company founded upon entertainment, we’re truly inspired by artists who channel their energy into diverse paths. We’re proud to collaborate with Mr. Dylan and bring his vision to MGM National Harbor’s Heritage Collection in a way that enhances this sensory resort experience.”

Dylan has sculpted iron pieces for family and friends for the past 30 years, but it wasn’t until 2013 – at London’s Halcyon Gallery in an exhibition called Mood Swings – that his metal artwork was first viewed publicly. His works feature found objects, vintage scrap metal and industrial artifacts collected from junkyards. Dylan collects everything from farm equipment, children’s toys, kitchen utensils and antique fire arms to chains, cogs, axes and wheels. He then welds these curiosities into thoughtfully juxtaposed masterpieces. Commissioned by MGM National Harbor to envision an open entrance, Dylan hand-selected unique objects and will weld a stunning composition into a soaring archway. Guests will walk through this incredible architectural artwork entitled “Portal” as they enter the new resort.

Gates are elemental in Dylan’s body of welding work. The poet draws from their symbolism as doorways. “Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow,” said Dylan. “They can be closed, but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways, there is no difference.”

Although best known as a singer and songwriter – he has released 48 albums, written over 600 songs and sold more than 110 million records – Dylan also is a prolific visual artist who has exhibited his paintings for two decades. His combined creative output has influenced American art and culture in immeasurable ways.

Dylan’s welding work pays homage to America’s industrial core as well as his personal history. He grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota, an “Iron Range” city home to one of the largest mines and iron ore deposits in the country, which supplied 90 percent of the nation’s iron for World War II. At 75, Dylan has witnessed the transition of the American economy and the subsequent hard times that befell towns like Hibbing during his lifetime. His art – from his lyrics – “The Times They Are a-Changin'” – to the discarded and often obsolete metal items he collects and welds – reflect a bygone era. As a folk artist, Bob Dylan captures the nation’s lament for the time before modern technology, when it was just the soil, the hand and the tool. Fittingly, each work of art contains a small metal buffalo, signed Black Buffalo Iron Works, followed by Dylan’s signature.

The MGM National Harbor Heritage Collection will feature pieces from more than a dozen artists working with a variety of mediums including aluminum, clay, stainless steel, bronze, watercolors, photography and more. Objects will range from large-scale sculptures and paintings to photography and LED light boxes, creating a rich visual experience. Inspired by the heritage of the Capital Region, the MGM National Harbor Heritage Collection will showcase high-quality commissioned and procured works seamlessly integrated into the resort’s public spaces, by visionary local and international sculptors, photographers and mixed-media artists.”

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Very cool. Big Dylan fan from way back (I was 16 and he was in his 20’s) and he continues to amaze me.

  • Anon X

    A portal to a land where poor people will lose all their money on dreams of making it big designed by Bob Dylan. Wow.

    • Anonymous

      The hippies of Woodstock became the Yuppies/BSD’s of the 80s. Meh.

    • Truxton Thomas

      Yeah, what a bizarre juxtaposition.

    • Ashy Oldlady

      I think those very words were used in a song he wrote in 1964.

  • skj84

    I never knew Bob Dylan was a visual artist as well! I’ve learned something new today.

    • textdoc

      I saw an exhibition of paintings of his a few years ago — I think in Stockholm.

  • shmoo

    dylan at verizon might have been the worst concert ive ever seen in my entire life, and im a fan.

    • jumpingjack

      I saw him back in college – circa 1996 – and it was cringe-worthy. I can’t even imagine how terrible he sounds 20 years later.

    • Anonymous

      My GF went with her mom (an aging hippie) and she said the same thing. It was the worst concert she’s ever seen. Dylan is ridin’ that nostalgia cash train of upper middle-class lawyer-hippies with too much disposable income.

  • It sounds cool, but I do not get the connection at all. Maybe there just isn’t one.

  • dh

    The Times They Are A-Changin’

  • Anon

    Hey, beats having to hear him croak a set?
    (Dylan was absolutely great until about the mid 70s.)

    • anonymouse_dianne

      I saw him with the Band ~ 1975 and they were fantastic. Saw him with Tom Petty and the Dead ~ 1984 and they were all fantastic… but forgot the words to Desolation Row which was hysterically funny.

      • artemis

        I am so so so jealous that you saw him with the Band!

  • Anonymous

    The old song and dance man has written extensively about card players and hustlers his whole life. He’s generally an optimist despite the scowling, and chip and a chair is a motto his Bobness might claim to be more honest than just about anything else that’s out there. Remember, Bob went to NYC after dropping out of college with about $10 bucks in his pocket, signing Woody Guthrie covers and became one of the most important and prolific songwriters and performers in American history. Those are pretty big odds, no?

  • Anon. No. 5

    You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the casino blows…

  • jcm

    I wish I could go back in time and tell 1963 Dylan what he’s doing today. “Yeah man, you’re in a bunch of TV commercials and you make mediocre art for casinos. No, you don’t need the money, you’re really rich. No one knows why you do it.”

    • Anonymous

      I’m laughing my ass off at this.
      “No one knows why you do it.”
      I think with a lot of famous people – especially as they keep their fame into their older years when they no longer need the money – they come to realize that their future generations of progeny will not be famous nor will they have the opportunities to make large sums of money so easily through lame endorsements and appearances. Working sucks, we all know that. So they keep working because (i) that’s all they know and (ii) they can bank it and then create an even more impactful legacy after death (either through charity or ensuring many generations after them will live in comfort).
      I mean, if some casino wanted to pay me a lot of money to make mediocre art I’m not sure I could turn it down….could you?


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