Bob Dylan, sculptor. (MGM National Harbor)

He’s the folk icon whose name is synonymous with protest music, the civil rights and antiwar movements, and speaking truth to power.

And, now, Maryland gambling. MGM National Harbor announced Wednesday that a Bob Dylan sculpture will welcome visitors to its $1.3 billion property when it opens later this year.

“Welcome” might not be the right word. MGM’s guests will actually walk through the sculpture. Called “Portal,” it’s a 26-foot by 15-foot iron archway — Dylan’s “first permanent work of art for a public space,” according to MGM.

In a prepared statement, Dylan explained the thinking behind his sculptures — crafted from scrap metal, children’s toys and other junkyard finds.

“Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow,” Dylan said. “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.”


“Portal.” (MGM National Harbor)

MGM commissioned the work, which will be part of its permanent art collection on display at National Harbor.

“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,” Jim Murren, chief executive of MGM Resorts International, said in a statement.


Dylan at work. ( MGM National Harbor)

Though a Dylan self-portrait adorned the cover of his poorly received 1970 album “Self-Portrait,” his iron work was not seen publicly until 2013. Halcyon, the London gallery that exhibited it, noted the 75-year-old singer was raised in Hibbing, Minn., a center for iron manufacturing.

“I’ve been around iron all my life ever since I was a kid,” Dylan said at the time. “I was born and raised in iron ore country — where you could breathe it and smell it every day. And I’ve always worked with it in one form or another.”

Confused by Dylan’s latest move? Don’t be. “Masters of War,” going electric, becoming Christian, Chrysler commercials, MGM casino commissions — it’s all part of the ever-evolving Dylan continuum.

“There is a tendency to judge Bob Dylan, first and foremost, by his musical output and not as an artist in the widest sense, which is what he truly is,” Halcyon wrote in a statement. “Musician, painter, draughtsman, sculptor — these disciplines are not so far removed from each other, all requiring their own imaginative input, time and practice. That Dylan, this artistic live wire, is responsible for magnificent, intriguing iron sculptures should not be a shock at all, and on reflection they are entirely of a piece with what has come before.”