Destination:

Tippet Rise

Fishtail, Montana

45° 27′ 7.79″ N, -109° 30′ 9.59″ W

On a 12,500-acre working cattle and sheep ranch in Fishtail, Montana, the site-specific sculptural stages and installations of Tippet Rise Art Center float across the undulating grasslands like ancient monuments or portals. The center sits roughly midway between Billings and Bozeman, two hours north of Yellowstone National Park, and founded by philanthropists Cathy and Peter Halstead, the vision for an artistically rich, experiential destination began to take shape in 2010. The site opened in 2016 and includes three performance venues with a programming emphasis on internationally acclaimed chamber musicians and soloists.

Environmental sustainability, a respect for the Indigenous history and narratives of the land, and a mission to sustain the longstanding agricultural traditions of Montana merge with monumental artworks and seasonal performances at Tippet Rise. Where native bison and elk have historically grazed, the ranch recognizes that properly managed grazing benefits the land and its flora.

Along its 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, sculptures by acclaimed artists like Louise Nevelson, Ai Weiwei, and Alexander Calder emerge from inclines, sweep across the horizon, or provide portals through which to view to the adjacent Beartooth Mountains. Many of the installations, such as Ensamble Studio’s Domo create awe-inspiring sites to wander through on foot or to view a unique concert.

Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), The Domo, 2016, 98 x 49 x 13 feet. Photo by Iwan Baan

With its nearly 20 square miles, Tippet Rise is the largest sculpture park in the world, boasting more than 20 artworks installed throughout the art center and thenarea’s canyons and valleys. New artworks are acquired often, such as Wendy Red Star’s The Soil You See…, originally exhibited in 2023 as part of Beyond Granite on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Wendy Red Star was born in Billings, Montana, and raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation. Tippet Rise sprawls across the traditional lands of the Apsáalooke, and The Soil You See… connects the physical place to myriad histories that perpetually connects to and shapes the present. Red Star uses her own fingerprint as a model for a striking sculpture in which the print’s ridges include the names of 50 Apsáalooke chiefs and tribal representatives who brokered treaties with the U.S. government between 1825 and 1880. As the sun shines through the glass surface, the thumbprint pattern will be imprinted on the ground as a constant reminder of the dark legacy of settler colonialism in the U.S., when the government sought to eradicate Indigenous American cultures.

Tippet Rise draws on the past as a lens through which to view the present and the future, blending traditional practices with contemporary views of land use and art and inviting visitors to traverse its expansive terrain. Explore more about the ranch in further videos from the series Relevance of Placepresented by Shannon Jackson, a scholar and educator of cross-media art practice and of socially-engaged art, and Chair of the History of Art Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

The ranch opens to the public for hiking, biking, and sculpture van tours on June 14. Find the full performance schedule and more information about visiting and tours on Tippet Rise’s website.

Patrick Dougherty, Daydreams, 2015 and Cursive Takes a Holiday, 2022. Locally sourced willow saplings and sticks. Photo by James Florio
Patrick Dougherty, Daydreams (interior view), 2015. Locally sourced willow saplings and sticks. (School house in collaboration with JXM & Associates LLC and CTA architects.) Photo by Erik Petersen
Alexander Liberman, Archway II, 1984/2016. Red painted steel, 40 feet high. Photo by James Florio.
View of Olivier Music Barn (left) and Will's Shed (right). Photo by Erik Petersen
Louise Nevelson, Trilogy, 1978, COR-TEN, steel, and aluminum, various sizes. Photo by James Florio
Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Inverted Portal, 2016. 40 x 18 x 22 feet. Image courtesy of André Costantini

Header image: Ensamble Studio (Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa), Beartooth Portal, 2015. 33 x 25 x 26 feet. Photo by Iwan Baan

All images © the artists, courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center

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