Jim Dolan, a metal sculptor based in Belgrade, Montana, has spent more than 50 years creating large-scale art. Jim’s art is found around the world, from his 39 steel Bleu Horses near Three Forks, Montana, to his 36-foot wingspan Golden Eagle in Osaka, Japan.
In September, “Bleu Horses” turned 10 years old, and Dolan considers them his gift to the people of Montana.
Jim came to Montana at age 18, working on his family’s ranch and learning the ways of the land. In 2013, he installed his iconic Bleu Horses near Three Forks, Montana. He describes this herd metal horses as a gift to the people of the state of Montana for their decades of support for him and his art, and in September of 2023, the horses turned 10 years old.
In October, I had the pleasure of getting to know Jim, where I interviewed him for Yellowstone Public Radio and the Montana Free Press. He is a gentle hearted artist who gives without reservation of his creative arts, including shipping a horse to the people of Ukraine during wartime.
“We ship them guns and bombs and weapons. I want to ship them art,” Dolan told me. In partnership with Bozeman’s Ukrainian relief effort group, he arranged for the mustang to ship out earlier this year.
Horses are Dolan’s favorite animal to sculpt, and he’s been doing it since the 1960s.
“You can really hit people’s hearts with those horses,” Dolan said to me during our interview for MTFP. “Everybody has a story of the first time they’ve seen them — thinking that they’re real horses. And it doesn’t disappoint them when they find out they aren’t real.”
Many of the horses are rigged with gears and pulley systems so their necks or torsos move in the wind. Their manes and tails are made from thick black rope, unwound so they flick about as if swatting flies. Muzzles shaped with expandable steel seem to ask for a caress, while ears stand straight, appearing to take in all that moves around them.