Beartooth Portal and Tippet Rise: Between Two Worlds in the Heart of Montana

Like the shells of two tortoises in an endless turf battle, the curved slabs of Beartooth Portal rise dramatically out of the desert scrub. Off in the distance, the Crazy and Beartooth mountain ranges loom. The massive, earth-hewn sculpture holds the kind of eerie otherworldly magnificence that could inspire Salvador Dalí himself.


Since its installation on the grounds of Montana’s Tippet Rise Art Center in 2015, the sculpture has indeed inspired artists and musicians from across the globe, who muse at its striking silhouette, perform beneath it or both.

Nature Meets Artifice

Tippet Rise Art Center
Photo credit: @audreyhallphoto.
Tippet Rise Art Center.
Photo credit: @rmhalland.

A creation of Ensamble Studio, the sculpture was made from the earth that lies directly beneath the place where it now stands, rock and concrete.

Creating this massive installment involved tractors and the largest cranes in Montana. Towering at over 32 feet tall, 26 feet wide and 25 feet deep, the sculpture weighs over 400 tons.

Tippet Rise cofounder Peter Halstead has likened the structure to a “wormhole” connecting human constructs with the wild landscape beyond. On a clear night, the Milky Way creates the kind of surreal backdrop photographers dream of.

Where to Find Beartooth Portal

Tippet Arts Center
Photo credit: @artlobster.

Home to Beartooth Portal, Tippet Rise Art Center lies about halfway between Billings and Bozeman in the town of Fishtail, Montana, a few hours north of Yellowstone National Park. The 12,000-acre space operates with the philosophy that art, music, architecture and nature are all inextricably tied to the human experience. Here, you’re invited to experience all of those elements at once among its colossal works of art.

Some of these works are outdoor sculptures, while others are beautifully designed performance spaces that seamlessly combine natural elements, art and architecture.

In addition to Beartooth Portal and two other works by Ensamble, you’ll find the work of five other artists: Patrick Dougherty, Stephen Talasnik, Mark di Suvero, Alexander Calder and Francis Kéré.

Tippet Rise Art Center is closed through 2020. To visit or attend an event in 2021, visit tippetrise.org.


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