LINCOLN, Mont. — Artists from all over the world are celebrating the Blackfoot Valley's industrial and environmental heritage.
In this week's Montana Moment we explore 'Sculpture in the Wild.'
It's an international sculpture park in Lincoln, where art blends with the forest to honor the valley's timber and mining industries and the valley's close ties to nature.
You see that this is a special place, a true Montana Moment, as soon as you enter its gate.
Every art piece is constructed of industrial or natural materials.
Artists from the United States, Germany, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom have built sculptures in the forested surroundings.
"An international sculpture park is what makes it richer," said Sculpture in the Wild board president Becky Garland," because we can share our world with others all over the world."
"The First Nations people, the first pioneers, miners and loggers," said Sculpture in the Wild education coordinator Annette Gardner," all of those people brought us to where we are."
Annette shows us a sculpture called 'Gateway of Change' by Denmark's Jorn Ronnau.
It's composed of three sculptures in one.
Annette demonstrates by climbing a tier of logs to sit on what is called a "throne."
From the throne she peers between two tree trunks to see a wooden city called 'The Golden City of the Future.'
Mike and Candyce Kepler of Helena brought their three sons, John, Jace and Andrew to see 'Montana Memory."
It's a TeePee burner from the old Delaney Sawmill, and the work of Irish artist Kevin O'Dwyer.
The TeePee burner, was once a familiar signature of Montana's timber industry.
It was used to burn wood refuse.
The Kepler boys played inside the interpretive art work where historic pictures of Blackfoot Valley lumberjacks were installed.
"I think it's like a grain bin," said Andrew.
"What did you like Jace?" asked Mike.
"I like the pictures of the old loggers," said the youngster.
The timber and mining industries in the Blackfoot have seen massive decline.
People lost jobs in an industry that once thrived.
Many left the valley.
It's been painful.
" It's almost like a death it hurts so much," said Becky.
But 'Sculpture in the Wild' honors the men and women who contributed their skills and hard work to build an economy and a community.
" It's been a place of healing for the community," said Becky," to be proud of our history."
She showed us 'Ponderosa Whirlpool,' a circular sculpture made up of Ponderosa pine logs.
"Chris Drury from the United Kingdom is the artist," she said. " It's depicting a whirlpool or a vortex," she said, "where everything from above is brought down to the earth."
Jaakko Pernu of Finland built 'Picture Frame.'
Composed inside the frame are twigs intricately intertwined together.
"The picture frame or portrait represents the vastness,the largeness," said Becky, "of Big Sky Montana."
University of Montana emerging artist Tyler Nansen built 'Bat Beacons.'
" It's a living piece of art that's a home for the bats in the region," said Annette.
University of Montana emerging artist Casey Schachner built 'Stringer.'
It's a fan shaped sculpture constructed of logs.
"The logs seem to pass between each other," said Annette. "It's kind of an optical illusion."
You can walk through Mark Jacobs and Sam Clayton's 'East West Passage.'
It's all submerged underground.
The artists say it's a sculpture "born where continents divide and new routes of passage become possible."
Cornelia Konrads of Germany built 'The Bridge.'
" The bridge is either crumbling and falling down," said Becky, "or repairing itself and building back."
Annette showed us 'House of Sky' by Ireland's Alan Counihan.
It's a tall piece that shines and reflects.
American artist Steven Siegel used 30,000 pounds of newspaper and 28 Lodgepole pine poles to create 'Hill and Valley.'
Artist Kevin O'Dwyer fell in love with Montana's Ponderosa pine trees and jackleg fences.
He created 'Montana Line Drawing.'
" On a nice sunny afternoon you can see the shadow on the ground of the Montana Line Drawing," said Becky, " and it looks like a jackleg fence shadow."
American artist Patrick Dougherty created 'Tree Circus.'
It's a house that looks like a picture from a Fairy Tale.
University of Montana art major Jules Lucero always stops at 'Sculpture in the Wild' when she travels back home to Great Falls.
She said the sculptures are always different and ever changing.
" Through weather and erosion," she said, "it looks completely different than it did two years ago."
Not all the sculptures are permanent.
So much is temporary.
"Just a blink in time," said Becky.
It's a magical place.
You feel like you're in another world when you walk through this forest filled with art.
It's a Montana Moment.