Robert Plant, Dolly Parton And Miles Davis Enshrined At Merriweather Post Pavilion

In its 50-plus year history, Merriweather Post Pavilion has seen the likes of music legends Miles Davis, Robert Plant and Dolly Parton grace its stage. Now these musicians will live on forever at the venue, with the unveiling of three sculptures created by French anamorphic sculptor Bernard Pras that were revealed this past weekend.

15. New Sculptures of Dolly Parton Robert Plant and Miles Davis by French Anamorphic Artist Bernard Pras at Merriweather Post Pavilion
Robert Plant, at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., for a concert with Alison Krauss, helps I.M.P.’s Seth Hurwitz unveil sculptures of (L-R) Dolly Parton, himself, and Miles Davis at an unveiling June 11. (Photo Courtesy of Merriweather Post Pavilion)

During the unveiling, I.M.P. Productions’ Chairman, Seth Hurwitz explained the impetus for these creations.

“We’re always trying to figure out how to make Merriweather more fun, more exciting,” says Hurwitz. “Recently, I discovered the work of my now good friend, Mr. Bernard Pras, who does just crazy stuff….He makes art out of things you find. You first think, ‘Okay, that’s kind of interesting’ but then you look and you really start appreciating his genius.”

After Hurwitz commissioned the artist to create the one-of-a-kind pieces, Pras set out to find locally-sourced materials, producing all three statues in six weeks.

“Most of them, especially the metal pieces, are from the local recycling center,” Guillaume Desnoë, Creative Director at I.M.P., tells Pollstar. “The rest is from local thrift stores….He [Pras] doesn’t know what he’s going to start with. It’s a blank page.”

Located behind Merriweather’s lawn, each sculpture has a marked vantage point for the viewer to observe the piece as a whole. But when observing the sculptures up close, the types of items used in each piece is truly surprising. Robert Plant’s chest is comprised of a inverted wheelbarrow (looking astonishingly like his chest during the seventies) with the back of his head including cymbals (John Bonham would’ve loved that). The lead pipe and valve of Miles Davis’ trumpet is actually a folded walker. Dolly Parton’s hair was created using surplus brass instruments donated by the Howard County Public School system.

Pras also added Easter eggs to each piece. Plant’s includes a lemon (if you don’t get that reference, shame on you) while Parton’s easter egg includes the word ‘love,’ a very intentional choice by Pras.

“We discussed the artist and did all the research about what the artist means and Dolly is love,” explains Desnoë. “When you think of Dolly, you think of love. You think of everything she’s done and he [Pras] wanted to add something at the end. He didn’t need it for the sculpture but he felt it appropriate.”

Robert Plant, who was performing at Merriweather that night with Alison Krauss, took a moment to check out the statues after the unveiling and his soundcheck.

Howard County Executive, Dr. Calvin Ball, hopes that these pieces will be an inspiration for all who visit Merriweather.