So when she settled in Ovando [artist note: Potomac actually] two years ago with her partner (and now husband) Joe Caneen, Dizengremel took stock of her surroundings, and soon enough had roughed out an idea in her head: a sculpture trail all along Montana Highway 83, from Clearwater Junction to Glacier National Park.
“I thought, this is such a wonderful corridor of recreation, hunting and other beautiful things, and I just think if one added art to the corridor it would round it out even more,” says Dizengremel.
It’s an ambitious plan, to be sure – one that will be years in the making, if it happens at all.
*****But, she figured, if prehistoric people in England could stand 50-ton rocks on their ends and create the most famous sculptural installation in history, surely a well-known artist with a few like-minded friends in the age of modern machinery could put their own creative stamp on the landscape.
That, in a nutshell, is the logic by which Dizengremel arrived at her current project, the first in what she hopes will be a long road of sculptural installations in the Seeley-Swan Valley.
“England has stones, they have Stonehenge,” says Dizengremel. “We have logs, so we will have Log Henge. It seemed to make sense to me.”
Constructed out of ten 10- to 20-foot peeled and sealed logs, Log Henge is no longer just a dream; it’s being installed right now, in a glade of trees just north of the Stage Station in downtown Seeley Lake, right alongside the highway.
“I actually always envisioned art there, but for one reason or another I just didn’t get it done,” said Geri Netherton, owner of the Stage Station and the plot of land where Log Henge will be installed. “When I met Laury, I thought her energy was contagious, so I said yes, let’s go for it.”
Netherton wasn’t alone in being charmed by the energy of Dizengremel. Though she estimates that the sculpture would cost approximately $20,000 if paid for outright, Dizengremel has managed to secure donations of everything from engineering plans to rebar to construction labor to the logs themselves from members of the Seeley Lake community.
“I’m just amazed and floored at how incredibly supportive the community has been,” says Dizengremel, who figures the installation will be completed by the end of the summer. “Wayne Cahoon, I’d never met the guy, and two minutes later he’s saying yes, he’ll bring his log boom truck whenever we need him.
“It’s been like that with everyone; everyone I’ve asked for help, I’ve received it.”
That’s not to say that the project hasn’t taken time to develop. Dizengremel first began talking up the idea soon after she arrived in Ovando. Having lived most of her life as a newcomer in various locales around the world, she knew it would take time to find the right folks to make it happen.
“If you’ve just arrived like a hair on the soup in the community, it’s not often easy to make the right connections and make something like this happen,” says Dizengremel. “But I have the energy for this because I’ve done big sculptures in communities before, I’ve walked the baby steps, and so now it has come to the point that it’s going to happen.”
*****It didn’t hurt that Dizengremel had experience to back up her talk. Over the years, her sculptures have been commissioned by celebrities such as John Travolta, as well as the Association of Tennis Professionals, for whom she created eight larger-than-life statues, their bodies modeled after the famed Terra Cotta Warriors of Shaanxi, China, their heads portraits of the eight finalists in the 2007 Masters Cup: Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, David Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, Fernando Gonzalez, Nikolay Davydenko, Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet. Her “Tennis Terra Cotta Warriors” drew media attention from around the globe.
One of the first supporters of Dizengremel’s vision was Dee Baker, owner of the Grizzly Claw Trading Co. in downtown Seeley Lake.
“One of the unique things about this town as far as the possibility of a sculpture trail is that almost every business in town has these spaces around their building – they’re not butted up against each other,” said Baker. “So if the businesses wanted there could be a major sculpture on pretty much every business in town.”
Baker said that a sculpture trail could help draw tourists from around the region, especially those looking for a scenic route to Glacier National Park.
“There’s one (sculpture trail) in North Dakota. Tourism there increased
25 percent by the time they installed the first eight sculptures, and by the time they finished the whole thing, it increased 225 percent,” said Baker. “So I think it could be great for this community.” “I think this (Log Henge) is going to get people excited and get things moving faster,” added Baker.
Regardless of whether the big-picture idea plays out, Jeri Netherton said she expects Log Henge will be a fine addition to the town she is proud to call home.
“I think everybody that drives by will see something different – which is great, because it gives them something beautiful to contemplate,” said Netherton. “I just love the dream, and I’m excited to see it coming to fruition here.”
Reporter Joe Nickell can be reached at 523-5358, firstname.lastname@example.org or on NickellBag.com.