A Visit to Tippet Rise. Part II

A Special Staff for a Special Place

By: - Aug 27, 2023

Pete Hinmon and Lindsey Hinmon are Co-Directors of Tippet Rise Art Center. They are warm and deeply thoughtful, qualities you find in everyone at this working ranch. Qualities clearly treasured by the Halsteads, the couple creating this special art venue. The Halsteads have a knack for picking people. 

In the presence of the Hinmons, you always feel the place. Pete and Lindsey come from Colorado. They are a couple who seem to run on parallel tracks that often intersect, Halstead style.

Lindsey talks about the sculptures while Pete drives a van around the property. Sculptor tours manned by Tipped Rise staff are offered to everyone from mid-June to mid-August. 

Lindsey may know everything about the place. Pete surely does. He speaks as knowledgeably about the geothermal heating and cooling system as he does about gathering willow branches from neighboring streams one spring, with ranch manager Ben Wynthein. They would be woven by the sculptor Patrick Dougherty into Daydreams, the divisions of the interior of a schoolhouse. Daydreams features an audio installation, Dreamworlds. 

Outside Cursive Takes a Holiday is an exterior pathway, which resembles the tangled undergrowth in which Virginia Wolff’s children are described in early chapters of The Waves.

Lindsey points out a mallet Mark di Suvero has left to be struck on the disc which swings between a square metal piece from which appears to have been carved some swirling melodies now perched on the other side of the sculpture called Beethoven’s Quartet. Everyone wants to create a note or two, launching them into the bright blue morning sky between Murphy and Box Canyons.

Lindsey explains that di Suvero’s Proverb, tucked in a cranny between Arney and Box Canyons, is a meditation on the tiny tools we use to measure infinity. Proverb is one of the tallest works at the ranch.

A Richard Serra sculpture is arriving momentarily. Who knows how tall that will be? It will stay wrapped and unassembled until current construction work at the ranch is complete. We know it’s heavy. MOMA had to add support to a floor when 200 tons of Serra sculptures were installed. The earth at the ranch has an easier time of it.

Ensamble Studio principals Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa created Beartooth Portal and Inverted Portal by shaping earth dug from the land. Their beautiful forms, says Lindsey, are raw and react to the Montana landscape around them.

Ensamble Studio’s Domo has been designed to project superior sound for outdoor performance. Mesa observes that, despite all the planning, there was still a level of uncertainty in the construction process. Surface wrinkles were completely dependent on how the plastic sheeting was placed in the mold before the concrete was poured. And, given their exposure to the harsh climate, the pieces will continue to change over time. “That’s OK,” Mesa says. “We want nature to take over.”

I want to sit in the cradle at the center of Stephen Talasnik’s Pioneer. He calls it Satellite 5 because it is an adventure in space. Pioneers traveling west to an unknown land probably felt the same way.

When I told Pete I’d found a curator from the National Gallery in Washington wandering around the grounds, he was not surprised, although he had no idea that she was coming to Tippet Rise. He explained that people often find their own way to the ranch, absorb what they wish to (and what is unavoidable) and go without ever announcing their presence. This is as it should be. Part of the privacy of this special experience.

Solar panels sit on a slanting roof under which the tour vehicles park. EV chargers are provided here. The bunker in which the mechanical elements of the geothermal system are situated is nearby, as are the wells drilled to tap the waters percolating in the land. The latest batteries charging this system have just arrived and Pete is proud of them.

My colleagues asked about the price of acquiring the sculpture and architectural pieces, but Pete says that they are not disclosed. When Alice Walton was offered a sorely needed major Jackson Pollock for Crystal Bridges, funded by Walmart profits, Walton’s artistic advisor told her that the asking price was too high. Knowing that she would upset the art market, Crystal Bridges did not acquire the Pollock. Here at Tippet Rise prices are simply not revealed.

The Richard Serra is expected momentarily. The price?  It is a gift. Louise Nevelson’s Trilogy (which looks like a traditional family: mother, father and child)  and Alexander Liberman’s Archway II, have arrived this year.  Liberman’s work is painted red steel and is perhaps the boldest sculpture on the ranch. Lindsey notes that it feels just right and I agree. Both Nevelson and Liberman were born in Ukraine. So too a featured composer in the music program, Valentyn Silvestrov.  

Not a detail is left unattended at this magnificent ranch. People are very much at the top of this list. You are surrounded by their warmth and intelligence at Tippet Rise.