Montana’s Blackfoot Valley is known for its natural beauty, its mining and logging industries, and its excellent fly-fishing, as depicted in A River Runs Through It. The region is not, however, usually considered a destination for contemporary art.
Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild, a sculpture park set in a wooded area just off Montana State Route 200 in the small town of Lincoln, hopes to change this. It’s a first step in making the Blackfoot Valley known for its cultural, rather than just industrial, products.
As the mining and logging industries have waned over the years, a vacuum has been created in the region that Blackfoot Pathways hopes to help fill by promoting the arts. Kevin O’Dwyer, the sculpture park’s co-founder and curator, has worked with local community members as well as artists from around the country and world to bring strikingly beautiful, large-scale art pieces to this otherwise unremarkable swath of woods.
The Irish artist Alan Counihan’s House of Sky is a mirrored stainless steel box sitting atop 30-foot pine poles, reflecting the sky and the tree line around it. Jaakko Pernu, a sculptor from Finland, created an enormous picture frame filled with branches of pine and spruce. Most of the park’s sculptures are, like these, site-specific and constructed with local materials. As enormous artworks, they stand in contrast with the straightforward landscape around them, and yet at the same time they specifically invoke and reference Montana.
Know Before You Go
Easy access from the highway. The sculpture park is open dawn to dusk, and admission is free.