Bob Dylan Is Building a Giant Iron Gate for the National Harbor Casino

Bob Dylan Is Building a Giant Iron Gate for the National Harbor Casino
Noted metalworker Bob Dylan. Photograph by John Shearer via MGM Resorts.

Bob Dylan, the singer-songwriter whose career stretches back more than six decades, has won 11 Grammy Awards, and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, is designing a large iron gate that visitors to the MGM National Harbor hotel and casino will walk under when the resort opens later this year. The 26-foot-by-15-foot installation, titled “Portal,” will be on permanent display at the $1.3 billion venue, MGM says in a press release.

Metalworking is one of the 75-year-old Dylan’s less-well-known pursuits. Although he’s been making metal sculptures since at least the 1970s—he told a Minnesota newspaper in 1978 that “I like to blast sculpture out of metal”—his first public show was not until 2013, when he displayed several pieces at a London gallery.

Dylan’s commission for the MGM casino was first reported by Rolling Stone.

As with any visual-art installation, “Portal” comes with its own esoteric description from the artist. “Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow,” Dylan says in an MGM press release. “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.”

Dylan’s gate at National Harbor will lead people toward a 125,000-square-foot casino floor which—if it comports to industry standards—will be designed to keep visitors inside.

The MGM National Harbor will also feature sculptures from local artists on its property, including “Unity,” by DC-based sculptor John Safer, featuring three 60-foot tall stainless steel twists.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.