Tippet Rise Art Center introduces Art in Nature under Montana’s Beartooth Mountains

Seven weeks of classical music performances are wed to scenic indoor and outdoor venues, in a landscape of large-scale sculptures and structures by Ensamble Studio, Stephen Talasnik, Patrick Dougherty and Mark di Suvero. Two major works by Alexander Calder, on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, are the latest additions to the landscape during the inaugural season. 

Founded by life-long philanthropists and artists Cathy and Peter Halstead on an 11,500-acre working sheep and cattle ranch, Tippet Rise Art Center celebrates the union of land, art, architecture, and music, bringing concerts by world-renowned musicians and large- scale contemporary sculpture to the hilltops and rolling meadows of Fishtail, Montana, midway between Billings and the edge of Yellowstone National Park.

Tippet Rise – Inverted Portal 2 Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Inverted Portal, 2015. Image courtesy of Tippet Rise/Iwan Baan. Image © Iwan Baan.

Tippet Rise has augmented its own permanent collection of outdoor sculptures and structures with the temporary installation of two major works by Alexander Calder, on loan from the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. 

Tippet Rise – Inverted Portal (foreground) and Beartooth Portal (background) Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Inverted Portal (foreground) and Beartooth Portal (background), 2015. Image courtesy of Tippet Rise / Iwan Baan. Image © Iwan Baan.

The dark steel arches of Calder's monumental Two Discs (1965), a cornerstone of the Hirshhorn's collection, is installed on an alluvial bench near the Olivier Music Barn. The 15-foot mobile The Stainless Stealer (1966) is installed in the barn.

Tippet Rise – Beartooth Portal Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Beartooth Portal, 2015. Image courtesy of Tippet Rise/Iwan Baan. Image © Iwan Baan.

Alban Bassuet, Tippet Rise Director, said, "In Montana, nature's scale overwhelms the senses and we are always reminded that the wildlife, the landscape, and the weather tell us what to do. In creating Tippet Rise, we worked tirelessly to pay homage to the land. The siting of each artwork was calculated so that artists could develop their own engagement with nature. The result, we hope, will be very personal, multi-sensory and immersive performances in a range of indoor and outdoor venues, and large expanses of unencumbered land, available for the exploration of large-scale artworks offering an unlimited number of personal interpretations. We hope this will create experiences that are deeply meaningful and utterly unique for our community members and beyond."

Tippet Rise – Domo Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Domo, 2016. Image © Andre Costantini. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

In addition to its performance venues, Tippet Rise features three commissioned raw-surfaced, quasi-architectural gateway structures and shelters created by Ensamble Studio (led by Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa). 

Tippet Rise – Domo 2 Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Domo, 2016. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

The structures include the 98-foot-long, 16-foot-tall Domo, an undulating horizontal form that contains a series of three caverns; the 25-foot-tall Beartooth Portal, composed of two vertical rocklike forms that stand approximately 25 feet apart at ground level and lean together at the top; and the similarly designed 26-foot-tall Inverted Portal.

Tippet Rise – Domo detail Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Domo, 2016. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Tippet Rise – Domo with Performer Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Domo, 2016. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Tippet Rise – Daydreams Patrick Dougherty, Daydreams, 2015, locally sourced willow saplings and sticks. (School house in collaboration with JXM & Associates LLC and CTA architects.) Image courtesy of Tippet Rise/ Djuna Zupancic. Image © Djuna Zupancic.

At Tippet Rise Art Center, there is no clear line between the performance venues, contemporary sculpture, and landscape. Tippet Rise has commissioned the site-specific Daydreams from sculptor Patrick Dougherty, for which he collaborated with JXM & Associates LLC and CTA architects, both based in Bozeman, to build a base structure resembling a 19th century-style prairie school. 

Using compositions of locally sourced willow saplings and sticks, Dougherty's Daydreams wraps across the outside of the school, resembling imaginary students leaning against the walls, and evoking the dreamlike atmosphere that sometimes settles over a class.

Tippet Rise – Satellite No. 5 Pioneer Stephen Talasnik, Satellite No. 5: Pioneer, 2016. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Tippet Rise also commissioned sculptor Stephen Talasnik to create Satellite No. 5: Pioneer, named for the 1973 space-probe project, to serve as an expression of Tippet Rise's mission of exploration. Pioneer, for which Talasnik collaborated with Gunnstock Timber Frames on the fabrication, sits in a natural amphitheater. The site will be used to stage performances in connection with the artwork, such as John Luther Adams's Inuksuit, played by 33 percussionists including members of the Billings Symphony, the Excelsis Percussion Quartet, and others, coordinated by Douglas Perkins.

Tippet Rise – Proverb Mark di Suvero, Proverb, 2002. Painted Cor-ten steel, 60 ft. x 17 11/16 ft. x 31 1/2 ft. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Tippet Rise is also home to two monumental works by the internationally renowned sculptor Mark di Suvero: Beethoven's Quartet (2003, steel and stainless steel, 24 9/16 ft. x 30 ft. x 23 1/4 ft.) and Proverb (2002, painted Cor-ten steel, 60 ft x 17 11/16 ft. x 31 1/2 ft.). 

Tippet Rise – Beethoven's Quartet Mark di Suvero, Beethoven's Quartet, 2003, Steel and stainless steel, 24 9/16 ft. x 30 ft. x 23 1/4 ft. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Each is sited within its own valley to give visitors the exceptional opportunity to view the work in a pristine natural environment, enjoying the primal resonance of Beethoven's Quartet (which may be played with mallets, like a steel drum) and the inherent motion of Proverb (which has a pendulum element that moves like a metronome, creating a steady tempo between nature and art).

Tippet Rise – Two Discs Alexander Calder, Two Discs, 1965, installed at Tippet Rise Art Center. On loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Image © Andre Costantini. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Tippet Rise – Olivier Barn (foreground) and Two Discs (background) The Olivier Barn at Tippet Rise. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Tippet Rise – Interior Olivier Barn The interior of the Olivier Barn at Tippet Rise. Image © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center.

Tippet Rise – Tiara The Tiara, a wall-less acoustic shell, at Tippet Rise Art Center. Design by Alban Bassuet and Willem Boning, with Arup Engineers. Lead Architect: Gunnstock Timber Frames. Image © Willem Boning. Image courtesy of Tippet Rise.

Tippet Rise – Tiara 2 The Tiara, a wall-less acoustic shell, at Tippet Rise Art Center. Design by Alban Bassuet and Willem Boning, with Arup Engineers. Lead Architect: Gunnstock Timber Frames. Image © Iwan Baan. Image courtesy of Tippet Rise.

Top image: Tippet Rise – Inverted Portal Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Inverted Portal, 2015. Image courtesy of Tippet Rise/Iwan Baan. Image © Iwan Baan.

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