On Sunday, a man named Asher A. Woodworth blocked traffic at the Portland intersection of High and Congress streets until police arrested him. He was also dressed up as a tree.
Woodworth refused to reveal himself or respond to officers who initially approached him with something like amusement. WCSH6 shared a video of officers smiling, then getting down to business. They stripped his leaves and told him, “I’ll accept your silence as you understand. You’re free to go. Stay out of the roads.” When he wandered back into traffic denuded, he was arrested.
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WCHS6 reported that Woodworth eventually admitted that Tree Man was a performance. (Of course it was.) Police say that Woodworth wanted to see how he could disrupt “people’s natural choreography.” Art, the muse, social practice—the dream is literally alive in Portland.
According to the Portland Press Herald, the 30-year-old artist, whose name is a big tree pun, was charged with the Class E misdemeanor of obstructing public way and his bail was set at $60. He was released on Monday. In an email, Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch told the paper, “It happens from time to time...People do bizarre things because they want to get arrested. We’re still not sure if he was trying to make a statement.”