Sculpture Wild 8 (copy)

Alan Counihan's "House of Sky" is framed by trees at Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild in 2020. The artist took the title of the stainless steel, steel and pine sculpture from author Ivan Doig's memoir.

The sculpture park in Lincoln will grow again this year.

“Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild,” located right in town, is resuming a normal summer with visiting artists and performers after a relatively quiet 2020 — and quiet doesn’t mean that it wasn’t busy.

The park wasn’t technically “closed” during COVID. While the public programs were postponed, the 26-acre grounds and its collection of international sculpture work was a safe place to experience art outdoors.

Artistic director Kevin O’Dwyer said they drew 50,000 people last year, many from Montana.

“They've been coming back this year … we're already up to over 10,000 visitors,” he said.

The guests this year are a mix of locals and out of state visitors. Montana native Phil Aaberg, who’s recorded for Windham Hill Records and been nominated for Grammys, is the composer in residence.

Here are the artists who will be on site in September to build new works over the course of three weeks.

  • Bentley Spang, a Northern Cheyenne artist who works in sculpture, video, painting or anything that suits a particular project.
  • Michael Brolly, a Philadelphia-based wood sculptor whose projects include a boat that is tuned like a musical instrument.
  • Beth Korth, a 2016 University of Montana MFA graduate and art education coordinator at Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail.

O’Dwyer said the artists visit the site and talk potential materials before developing their proposals, so it’s too early to share their plans. They’re asked to respond to either the environmental or industrial heritage of area — which is why wood and metal are dominant materials through the park, and often many of the guests are environmental-based artists already.

Korth is the 2021 emerging artist — she’ll be painting a large mural on the side of a storage container that’s kept on site, with inspiration from the birdlife in the valley.

Aaberg will visit the site for a week (he’s already been there multiple times) to develop new work, potentially including electronics and sound recordings. He’ll return in 2022 to perform a concert of the original material.

This is also the largest number of concerts they’ve ever had. They’re planned for the tepee burner that’s been modified into an event space. There are large openings on either side so people can sit outside the structure, too, and it has strong acoustics, O’Dwyer said. The educational programs will resume, depending on the schools.

Go to sculptureinthewild.com/events-2021.html to see the line-up or the listings in this issue.