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Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture in the Wild 

Blackfoot Pathways - Sculpture in the Wild


September 21, 2017

Kevin O'Dwyer

Chris Owen of Lincoln, one of more than a dozen volunteers at Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild, carries a bundle of willow saplings toward the growing structure, which will be home to about 10 tons of the saplings woven into a unique structure designed and built by sculptor Patrick Dougherty.

LINCOLN - Rain, snow and colder weather in the Lincoln-area high country provided relief from fires - and the resultant smoke - but caused some schedule changes for this weekend's "Festival in the Wild," a celebration of Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild and the work of artist-in-residence Patrick Dougherty.

The park along Montana 200 on the eastern edge of Lincoln has become a focal point for visitors to the area.

A unique, walk-in, woven-willow sculpture by the North Carolina-based artist and a corps of volunteers is taking shape rapidly under the watchful eyes of visitors and school children participating in the park's youth education program.

The weekend festival still will feature music at 4 p.m. Saturday by the popular Americana band Back Adit, but the performance won't be in the sculpture park's unheated centerpiece, a revamped Teepee Burner. Instead the Libby band will play indoors at the Montanan Steakhouse in the middle of Lincoln. Food and beverages will be available, as scheduled.

A "community weave" and tours Saturday and Sunday at the park on the east edge of Lincoln will proceed as planned, but the music set for Sunday in the Teepee Burner has been canceled.

An auction to raise money for the sculpture park still will occur at the Montanan Steakhouse starting at 5 p.m. Friday, featuring drinks and fun. Auction items including motor scooters, artworks and antiques will be on display in the steakhouse starting at noon Friday.

The auction will be conducted online. Participants also may view auction items at, where they can sign up to bid. Computers will be provided at the steakhouse for attendees wishing to bid.

After the auction Dougherty will talk about his work, including the massive piece now taking shape at the Lincoln sculpture park.

Kevin O'Dwyer

Students from school in Seeley Lake Tuesday explore Ponderosa Whirlpool, a work by Chris Jury of the United Kingdom, one of last year's artists in residence at Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild. Each day through next week students from around the region will explore the park and participate in weaving willow saplings into a sculpture of their own.

The official launch of the Lincoln installation will be at 4:30 Sep. 29 (a Friday), followed by music by the Steven Gores Band.

The artist has created more than 300 large-scale temporary sculptures worldwide. Since building his first sapling structures in 1982, Dougherty has traveled throughout the world to create large-scale temporary installations for museums, sculpture parks, botanical gardens, private residencies, and art festivals.

During construction, Dougherty said, "the line between trash and treasure is very thin, and the saplings littering the ground during the building phase may appear to be cluttered piles of yard waste."

However, "as unlikely as it seems," he said, "many of the drawing conventions that we all used in school to draw interesting pictures are the same techniques I employ to build the drawn surfaces of my oversized sculptures.

"As the form materializes day after day, those who see it become more convinced, until opening day when the work is complete in its intentions."

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