Arts Council increases public art in Big Sky

By Sarah Gianelli EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – If you have been out on the Hummocks or Uplands trails since Sept. 13, you may have noticed a new fixture near the trailhead—a 400-pound elk.

The bronze sculpture by renowned Montana artist Jim Dolan—who is also responsible for the 39 steel horses installed off Highway 287 just north of Three Forks—was donated to the Arts Council of Big Sky in 1997, but has been hiding out in the woods behind the Beaverhead condominiums until recently.

Part of a larger public art campaign that began last year with the wrapping of area utility boxes with original art, ACBS has partnered with Big Sky Community Organization to increase public art in Big Sky with a focus on trailheads and parks.

“We’ve wanted to move [the elk statue] for a long time,” said Brian Hurlbut, ACBS executive director. Hurlbut credits council board member Patty Rhea for taking the reins and making it happen, which entailed sorting through a fair amount of legalese before a crew of Ace Hardware volunteers engineered the move to its current location.

“I think having more public art in Big Sky shows that we’re not only a recreational community, but also a creative community,” Hurlbut said. “Bozeman is a great example with what they’ve done on Main Street and around the library. It will be easier and better to work on increasing public art as Big Sky develops, rather than after.”

ACBS has its sights on relocating another work by Dolan—two metal moose, currently in front of Big Horn Shopping Center on Highway 191—to a new home near the Ousel Falls trailhead.

“The elk statue, the moose—they’ll be in spots that you could very well see a real elk or moose,” Hurlbut said. “So it’s really like they’re in their natural setting. Moving forward, what we want to do is to get people to think about art in a place where they might not expect to see it.”

The elk statue was donated by Doug and Lindy Adelman and will eventually have a plaque commemorating Doug Adelman, who passed away in 2007.