Blackfoot Pathways

40 miles to the north of us lies Missoula and its newspaper, The Missoulian (a town much like my Flagstaff, its newspaper owned by the same owner as The Arizona Daily Sun). On September 21st, I opened my daily Missoulian E-edition and found the headline: Lincoln Sculpture Park Marks 10th Anniversary With New Works. Interesting. Lincoln lies 2 hours east of Missoula, at the head of the beautiful Blackfoot River valley. 

We’d had enough of the had-to-do and needed some want-to-do time and space. It was time to escape. So off we (me, Jessie, Jessie’s daughter Traci) trundled, up State Highway 200.

We ate a nice lunch in Lincoln, then drove a bit further to the Park, Blackfoot Pathways/Sculpture In The Wild (  

Once past the entry sign and away from a little terrier, the caretaker’s companion, we arrived at the first piece, a large TeePee Burner that used to be active in the area and has become the anchor for the park, with overhead light, and a small stage with good acoustical resonance. Like all of the pieces, the burner is a mix of natural and industrial material that originally came from the Blackfoot Valley. 

The air was chilly, with a slight breeze. Our hands were chilled, so we walked the 26 acres briskly, hands in pockets, sometimes reading, sometimes just looking, and sometimes seeing things through viewfinders. Several sites took longer than we’d planned, but we did see each of the 16 works, some in a hurry. 

The works range in size. All are big in vision and detailed in depiction. This was a good way to spend away time.

A lovely brochure guided us as we learned and tried to capture images. The brochure is not available on the website, so I’ve transcribed the information provided (The Artist name/National Origin/Artist Statement) for the sites shown in the images.

Bonus 1: a venerable left-over snag decorated in green 

Montana Memory – Kevin O’Dwyer/Ireland

Once ubiquitous in Montana and the Northwest, the TeePee Burners were testaments of a once-thriving timber industry. This iconic piece of industrial heritage has all but disappeared from the landscape and with it the cultural heritage of generations of community members…

Gateway Of Change – Jorn Rona/Denmark

A gateway is a threshold and a passage. After arriving at Sculpture in the Wild, experiencing the two trees sharing the same roots, that were growing apart, I feel that it would be an important visual and poetic gesture to reunited them. Thus creating a gateway, an opening into a new experience. On one side of the forest, nature…and you go up five steps to a seat. On the other side is a vision, a village of dreams, of art, of initiative, a Utopia, or whatever is hour personal “golden village”.

Tree Circus – Patrick Doherty/USA

The site for this work is peppered evenly with tall ponderosa pines, and needed a distinctive presence. I chose a circular design to create a recognizable focal point against this backdrop. Inside, a courtyard allows a more intimate view of the sculpture while also giving a new perspective on the exterior and towering trees viewed through the many doors and windows. The work also features a double wall with a series of ten chambers, five open to the sky, and five consolidated as towers that mimic the shape of the tops of the surrounding Ponderosa pines.

Ponderosa Whirlpool-Chris Drury/UK

The whirlpool or vortex exists in nature – from blood flow in our bodies through rivers and weather systems to the formation of galaxies. As such it is the manifestation of energy in the universe. The tree which draws water from the earth through its roots to the sky via truck and branches, connects Heaven and East. In the sculpture park, the Ponderosa pines and the dominant feature and obscure the mountains and sky. So, I wanted something which was in contrast to the verticality of the trees but which is some way seemed to draw down the the sky into the earth.

Clearing-Alison Stigora/USA

I wanted to create a contemplative space for visitors and invite them to pause in the midst of the woods. The title “Clearing” can refer not only to the physical landscape but also a mental, spiritual, emotional landscape. A meditative space provides opportunity to clear your thoughts as you move from the outside of the piece to the inside. There is a strong contrast between the heavy, imposing exterior and the open, light interior. Clearing is a place to enter “the process of becoming clear” by quieting your thoughts and grounding your physical body in the landscape.

A Place Is A Place Is A Place-Stuart Ian Frost/Norway/United Kingdom

A place is place is a place…is a site-specific sculpture created specifically for Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild. The art works multi-layered form by way of structural “carvings” evolved from a locally found object, a two-man antique cross-cut saw. This relic/reference found at the ghost town, Garnet, near Missoula, could be seen to symbolize humanity’s impact upon an environment-to ravage or to cultivate?

The Bridge-Cornelia Konrads/Germany

I like the idea of showing that there is something invisible to be found in the visible. I like to awaken the joy of thinking about possibilities, about what might be. I’m interested in the constant interplay of order and chaos! material and immaterial, construction and deconstruction. And I don’t see them as contradictions. They are the poles that exist in everything. If the bridge is breaking apart, or growing together? Both are possible at the same time.

House Of Sky-Alan Counihan/Ireland

…takes its title from the memoir of a Montana childhood by the American writer Ivan Doig [whose ancestry was Scottish}. In the course of that wonderful memoir Doig describes the blue expanse over Montana rangeland as forming the walls and roof of all of life’s experience…

East West Passage-Sam Clayton & Mark Jacobs/UK

Whilst exploring Lincoln and its surroundings, we became interested in the buildings constructed from the trees growing all around us, especially the crudely built miners’ cabins, their simple construction—born out of the place and economic circumstance—would form the technique, material and medium the artwork. 

We built a sculpture that had to be experienced, navigated; a culture that spoke the local visual language and used the built corners we so admired, a sculpture born out of its place where the continental divides, lines zig-zag, and new routes of passage become possible.

Bonus 2: next to the park is a space dedicated to those, like my son,  who want to walk in the forest and carry round objects, a disk golf course (9 holes). Hence the orange frisbee basket.

Visited 51 times, 1 visit(s) today
This entry was posted in General, Images, Places, Words and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.