FISHTAIL — You wouldn’t expect to find some of Montana’s most compelling and interactive art pieces at a working sheep and cattle ranch, but this is the case at the Tippet Rise Art Center near Fishtail. Sculptures and other works of art are showcased outside in the beauty of Big Sky country.
Nestled in the wide-open spaces of the Stillwater Valley, you’ll find the hidden gem that is the Tippet Rise Art Center.
“We’ve been open since 2016, so we still like to say we’re in our infancy,” said co-director of the center, Lindsey Hinmon, in a recent interview.
Unlike most art institutions, the center is set on 12,500 acres smack dab in the middle of nature.
“The experience of being amongst large-scale sculptures outdoors and outside with the wind blowing in your hair, the hawks flying overhead, the crickets chirping,” Hinmon said.
The pieces here are thought-provoking. Cursive Takes a Holiday is a stick art sculpture recently completed by North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty.
This isn’t the first time Dougherty has created a piece for Tippet Rise.
“2015, we built an interior piece in what looks like a real schoolhouse, but it’s actually a recreated schoolhouse of one that sits on a hill five miles away,” said Dougherty.
That piece is called Daydreams.
“The interior piece is all about daydreaming and wishing you were outside of school,” Dougherty said.
Cursive Takes a Holiday sits right outside the schoolhouse.
“It comes off the schoolhouse and becomes a kind of natural cursive writing out here using sticks. So when you see this excited line that moves along, it’s the idea that cursive is not doing what it’s supposed to,” said Dougherty.
Both sculptures are made from coyote willow and bound together by string. This means the pieces won’t last forever in the outdoor elements.
“Sticks are an imaginative object. It’s a tool, a weapon, a piece of a wall. So a lot of times when people come up and take a look at this, they already have these feelings about this material because they were children,” said Dougherty.
Dougherty’s pieces are only one aspect of the Tippet Rise Art Center.
“There’s hiking, biking reservations, van sculpture reservations, music tickets, and other opportunities that have been popping up throughout the season,” Hinmon said.
It’s an art center that’s so much more, in a place far off the beaten path, right in the middle of paradise.
“I’m enthralled with the landscape here,” Dougherty said.
If you would like to visit the Tippet Rise Art Center, you can make reservations by visiting Vision | Tippet Rise Art Center. If you’d like to learn more about Dougherty’s work, visit Patrick Dougherty (stickwork.net).