Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Gary Moseman
Sculpture in the Wild 

Sculpture in the Wild development ahead of schedule


August 29, 2018

Roger Dey

Rick Dunkerley and Kevin O'Dwyer stand at the then still-incomplete teepee burner during the launch of Sculpture in the wild following the first artist symposium and residency in 2014.

LINCOLN - Five years ago some 60 Lincoln-area residents got together in the school gym to hear of a new vision for this small mountain community.

Logging and mining were continuing to fade as foundational components of the area's economy - not gone nor forgotten, but surely diminished.

The speaker that evening was Irish sculptor Kevin O'Dwyer, who arrived in Lincoln as the guest of renowned Damascus steel knife maker Rick Dunkerley, whom he met at Pratt Fine Arts in Seattle, where O'Dwyer was artist-in-residence.

O'Dwyer proposed a sculpture symposium inviting international artists to create large-scale sculpture installations that honored the region's industrial and environmental heritage. The idea was to create a unique, living "park" that would make the community a focal point for visitors and students from Montana and, eventually, from far away

"Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild will become a Montana art destination once it's there," he told the gathering in 2013. "It takes a while. This is looking at it over a 10-year period."

Five years later the sculpture park envisioned by O'Dwyer and Dunkerley is truly a presence in Lincoln, and it is well ahead of that 10-year schedule.

At present the park is home to 14 major environmental sculptures by internationally known artists, with three more installations to be added in the coming weeks.

Artistic director and co-founder with Dunkerley of the 26-acre park on the eastern edge of Lincoln, O'Dwyer is delighted with the more than 17,000 visitors who have passed through the gate this year.

"I have met visitors during the summer season from as many as 10 States, Canada and Europe," O'Dwyer said. "Some came specifically to see the park as an art destination, and others were drawn in by the iconic 'Gateway' columns created by Finish sculptor Jaakko Pernu at the park's main entrance."

BPSW's busiest time - mid to late September - is just weeks away. (see related article for events schedule). Activities will abound as internationally known artists will be in residence creating sculptures and music, talking with visitors and students, and adding to the Blackfoot Pathways legacy.

"It's hard to believe we are celebrating our fifth anniversary," O'Dwyer said. "It has been an amazing journey for both the artists involved and the many community members who have participated in the development of the sculpture park. I love the enthusiasm of the community members who arrive with their expertise, manpower and machinery to work with our artists"

This year's fifth anniversary program will be extra special, he said, "with the introduction of more performing arts in the Lincoln Community Hall, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary"

"Plenty to celebrate in Lincoln this September," O'Dwyer said. "The concerts are free and the musicians are world-class! Come on out and enjoy a day in the park, a lunch time concert or an evening performance in Lincoln Community Hall."

Roger Dey

Kevin O'Dwyer discusses the prospect of a sculpture park in Lincoln at a public meeting in October 2013.

Resident sculptors this year are Cornelia Konrads of Germany, Kate Hunt now of Kalispell, Montana, and BPSW/UM emerging artist Anne Yoncha.

Composer-in-Residence and cellist Adele O'Dwyer is curating a program that will raise the profile of music at the park and in the community to unprecedented levels. With eight concerts during the three-week residency period featuring musicians from New York, Ireland, Santiago Chile, Minneapolis, Helena and Amherst.

The musical highlight will come near the end of the residencies: the debut of an original song cycle by Adele O'Dwyer featuring voice and a piano quartet and incorporating works by native American poets Victor Charlo and Heather Cahoon.

"Invite visiting friends and family," O'Dwyer urged, "to take a wonderful, inspiring walk in the park!"


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