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Summer sightings and celebrations at the art center

July 14, 2022

Long summer days have a bad habit of going by far too quickly, especially with so much activity at the ranch. It is a good reminder to take a moment to pause and reflect on the memorable moments we have had so far, and the many exciting ones to come.

Early summer is a great time to experience wildlife at the ranch. Guests have reported sightings of a few bears, in particular a small cinnamon colored black bear that seems to enjoy spending its days along the walls of Murphy Canyon, fittingly near the Beartooth Portal by Ensamble Studio. Jenny Van Ooyen, Tippet Rise’s Visitor Experience Manager, has also noticed that the cows, which this year are majority yearling heifers rather than cow-calf pairs, are much more rambunctious than usual. It is not uncommon for visitors to be joined by 15 to 20 curious cows underneath a sculpture, perhaps feeling emboldened without adult supervision!

Hikers and bikers at Tippet Rise have likely had the opportunity to meet some of our visiting Interpretive Rangers, who assist visitors out on the trails. While all five of the Rangers come from diverse backgrounds, including several with experience in the arts, they share a love of Montana, nature, and outdoor exploration. Our trail system is expanding this year too. Ted Wood from Wildwood Trails, Inc. has been on site to extend Andesite Trail approximately 1.5 miles, which will allow hikers and bikers to take a gentle and winding ascent up to the Beartooth Portal, with beautiful views that reach beyond to the Beartooth Mountains.

Van tours are once again being led by Lee and Roxanne Dunn, owners of the neighboring White Deer Ranch. The Dunns have been our fearless van tour leaders since 2016 and not only impart their knowledge of the sculptures, but also local history and flora and fauna of the Beartooth foothills region.

Whale’s Cry by Mark di Suvero was recently installed, situated near Box Canyon, just off the Ecliptic Trail. Despite its grandeur and strength of materials, the work plays with gravity and gently moves in the summer breeze.

We are also honored to have artist Patrick Dougherty on site with us now as he reimagines the exterior of Daydreams. Leading up to his arrival, a group of incredible volunteers from the area worked to collect thousands of local willow branches and strip them of their leaves, so that they could be soaked in water and transformed into pliable weaving materials. Every day, the new spiraling forms being created by Patrick and his team grow more and more spellbinding.

Nearby, another work inspired by nature, Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei is being installed, composed of 97 different iron elements interlocked using tenons and mortise keys, creating a thought-provoking conversation not only between works at Tippet Rise, but on individualism within a society.

The coming weeks will see the installation of the Folds by Ensamble Studio, a series of 16 ghostly chairs cast from malleable concrete, situated near the Domo and at various locations throughout the ranch.

Following unprecedented flooding last month throughout the Montana region that Tippet Rise calls home, we are so appreciative of the tireless efforts of local workers and volunteers who have repaired many bridges, roads, homes, and businesses. Thanks to them, we were able to promptly reopen Tippet Rise, and guests have been enjoying hiking, biking, and van tours of the ranch amid some of the greenest grass and abundant wildflowers we have ever seen. While it has been a challenging time, we are grateful for the unwavering resilience of our neighbors and community.

Montana’s state flower, the bitterroot, in full bloom at the art center. Photo by Jenny Van Ooyen.