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Tippet Rise Art Center, Montana

A place where art, performance and nature collide in a magical way

by Katie Olsen
on 25 July 2016

A couple of hours from Yellowstone National Park, a very different (but no less spectacular) kind of destination opened just last month. Tippet Rise Art Center, located in Fishtail, Montana, is driven by the mission to make art and music more affordable and accessible and to encourage people to experience it in a different way. Founded by Peter and Cathy Halstead, Tippet Rise blends music, visual art and nature on a 11,500-acre working ranch—with the snow-capped Beartooth Mountains offering a magical backdrop. We spoke with director Alban Bassuet about the dream behind and the reality of this remarkable place.

Bassuet says the mission for Tippet Rise is seemingly simple, "We hope visitors have a wonderful, transcendent experience and that they look at art, music, and nature in a new and different way." Yet especially important is to have affordable ticket prices in order to guarantee that these experiences aren't reserved for the select few who have the budget. This was a huge priority for the Halsteads, Bassuet tells us, "There was a very conscious decision to make the art center accessible to all." The resulting concerts in the on-site barn-meets-concert-hall cost only $10 (and are free for under 18s). Further, there's free admission to the center itself.

As for choosing artwork for such an intimidating space, Bassuet says the vision was huge, site-specific pieces that would create a sense of discovery and connection with visitors. "The artists were incredibly enthusiastic and have created works that respond beautifully to their setting. We felt it was important not to compete with the scale of this place. The team spent a long time planning the siting of the artwork and its relationship with the surrounding vistas. All engage in a visceral kind of way with the natural surroundings," he says.

Years of planning and working with (and respecting) the environment results in artworks placed in unexpected places. "Some are placed on hilltops to resonate with the far away mountain ranges; some of the works are hidden in natural bowl formations which form almost a mini gallery space; and some works are made from the earth as a manifestation of nature," Bassuet continues.

With lectures, film screenings, recitals and even opera—and the center open through 25 September—the ultimate goal for the team at Tippet Rise is "To erase the traditional boundary between art or architecture and nature and to convey how nature and human creativity enhance and magnify each other." Beginning with such a stunning location, years of planning, thoughtful curation and a desire to share beauty with anybody and everybody, it's an impressive destination.

It's suggested to pre-register to confirm your visit to Tippet Rise, but entry is free. The art center is open now through 25 September and there is food and lodging options on site. To take in a show or a film, visit the events page.

Images courtesy of Tippet Rise Art Center

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