Friday, May 14, 2010

UM Grad Students - Rebecca Weed & Cathryn Sugg

 "Non-typical Inheritor" - Cathryn Sugg

University of Montana Grad Students Rebecca Weed & Cathryn Sugg exhibited their MFA thesis work at The Gallery of Visual Arts on the UM campus.  Sadly this show comes down today, so to all of those who missed it here is a : (  for you.  I have been somewhat following these two talented ladies for a little a while, and highly anticipated this exhibit.

Sugg's combination of elk, doilies, sewn fabric canvases, wicked drawing/painting skills, irony, masculinity vs femininity, and humor has always engaged me.  Her use of opposing concepts and dualities, highlighted by the title of her exhibit "Inbetween" is something that I have always explored in my own artwork.  In this body of work she included a new fabric pattern containing muscular men posing as lumber jacks, hikers, farmers. Either way one is left oscillating between the thoughts of their manliness vs there feminine-ness.  This in-between-ness of her work really engages my thoughts pushing them into a creative process that attempts to transcend such duality.

Rebecca Weed's drawing style has always captivated me (to see some of her drawings, click here).  Her ephemeral style of drawing really crept into these paintings, and are by far some of the most successful paintings I have seen her produce.  I really enjoy how the whimsical lines and shadows surrounding her figures create a sense movement that emerges in and out of the background.  These works also contain a lot of bold patterns and open space that in contrast to the flow and emergent quality of the figures make for some great paintings.

Once again less chat more pictures

Apparently I didn't get the names to all the pieces...oh well

"B for Best?" Cathryn Sugg

Detail "Non-typical Inheritor" - Cathryn Sugg

Detail "Non-typical Inheritor" - Cathryn Sugg

"Kept Awake by the Scent of Bubble-yum" - Rebecca Weed

"Triage" - Rebecca Weed

Detail "Triage" - Rebecca Weed

"Self Portrait: Waking up" - Rebecca Weed

Detail "Self Portrait: Waking up" - Rebecca Weed

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another First Friday - May 2010

 This First Friday was pretty big for the University of Montana.  The National Western Cast Iron Art Conference was brought to UM with the aid of sculpture professor Brad Allen.  A number of Missoula galleries also hosted cast iron artworks in correlation with the conference, including the Missoula Art Museum.  Right out of the BFA exhibition, The UM undergrad art students threw down with a showing at a temporary space dubbed "Gallery 48" denoting the 48 hrs of its existence.  It really excites me when I see students working hard and making art happen.  This town certainly lacks adequate exhibition space for younger artists, so mad props to the BFA'ers for fearlessly making it happen.  Not to mention, a hand full of UM ceramic students displayed their work in the alley next to New West...damn it is good to see energized and prolific young artists making strong & engaging work.  I think students are often thought of as simply "students" but from my experience they make some of the most engaging artwork.  Also the newly founded and fabulous Brink Gallery hosted artworks by, adjunct UM art professor, Edgar Smith.  His works are bold, simple, yet conceptually complex with a natural elegance.  As usual there was a lot of other great art, like the fifth annual installment of "On Deck" at the Badlander.  And for the most creative & ephemeral gallery space I vote for the guy who pulled up in a Budget moving van out front of the Dana Gallery.  Great work Missoula, and now for less chatter and more pictures.

National Iron Exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum

More from the National Iron exhibit at the MAM

2007 UM MFA Sculpture Graduate Kendall Mingey, graced us with her artwork and presence over the weekend.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kathy Rodriguez

Bunny Baby Meets the Cousins Oil on panel 48" x 72"

2008 University of Montana graduate, Kathy Rodriguez, makes awesomely fun and engaging paintings (at least in my opinion...most people that walk into my house and see the giant cake and turkey flying off the wall may question such statements, but I just laugh because having a giant cake and turkey on the wall is really funny).   Why a cake and a turkey? Why is that guy dressed in a giraffe suit?  All these questions leave you somewhat stupefied, thrusting you into a space of liminality between understanding and confusion.   Her MFA thesis show "The Extravaganza Awaits" was an epic and rich artistic circus full of games, costumes, prizes, suprises, videos, installations, rooms, white buffalo, elephants, giraffes, babys, and more.  "The Extravaganza Awaits" was by far one of my favorite exhibtions I have seen Missoula.  I like it so much I bought 4x8 foot painting of a cake and a turkey!

Visit her website and there you can see all of her work.  Her most recent paintings of ducks are also great, not as stupefying, but still make you ask why ducks....cause there awesome...duh
 Turkey Escapes Oil on canvas
(this is the painting that graces my living room)

 Coming to the Table oil on canvas 70”x96”


Monday, April 5, 2010

Teaching in the Congo

Missoula multi-media journalist and educator, Anne Medley, is in the Congo teaching multi-media journalism to young, Congolese students.  The project titled, Congo In Focus, is a project...

to teach students in the Democratic Republic of Congo about digital media and online journalism. By utilizing the tools of the 21st century, these Congolese students will have a chance to tell their story and the story of their people to the rest of the world.

She has also been taking some amazing photos giving us a little window into a world much different from ours in America. Visit her blog to see her photos and to learn more about the program visit

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Creative Moment

I had the pleasure to attend Katie Ludwig's, also known as Lady Pajama, super fun Creative Moment class at the Zootown Arts & Community Center.  As a typical artists I showed up late and got distracted by all the the great art and artists at the ZACC.  Nonetheless, as I made it into the classroom I found Katie and piles of supplies on the table.  This class is about opening up to art where a synthesis of writing, drawing, object exploration, and works on paper will boost your creative potential.  The only thing you need to bring is a sketch book and yourself as Katie and the ZACC provide all the other materials.  After a brief warm up, we moved into the main project of the night.  The project took up 3 pages of your sketchbook and started with creating a horizon line on each of the pages.  Then we broke off into pairs and began interviewing our partners while drawing their portrait and writing words from the interview.  It was really amazing watching each person get to know the other while seeing a drawing emerge from the page.  Katie instructed us that this drawing is not about making the person look correct, but is more based on feeling, having fun and being in the moment with your mark making device. After everyone had interviewed each other, filling up their three pages we finished by drawing, stamping or transferring the name of the person onto the portrait. Katie then ended the class by reading to us... alls I needed was my onsie, some milk and I would have been a kid again.

The people who have been going regularly to the class have already filled up a large portion of their sketchbooks.  For example, Bruce who does not call himself an artists, especially not a drawer, has a great looking sketchbook.  When asked what his inspiration was for attending this class he responded by saying that " as a woodworker he was often told that his work was creative, so he thought that this class would be a great opportunity to further develop his creativeness."

If you want to attend this class show up to the ZACC at 6pm on the LAST thursday of the month.  And don't worry if you haven't been to one yet, as this was my first time and with the warmth and acceptance of Katie and the ZACC you'll fit right into "The Creative Moment".

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A letter from ZACC founder, Hanna Hannan

Hanna Hannan

Zootown Arts Community Center 501(c)(3)
Northside Neighborhood Revitalization in Missoula through Arts and Culture
Statistics Provided by the City of Missoula

The ZACC is really excited about Missoula Cultural Council taking a leading role in organizing all of us for a voice in the Downtown Master Plan and the Cultural Plan as a group. I was asked to submit about the ZACC and tell the story of our growing neighborhood. There are so many artists living on or near the North First Street area that last year we decided to make our (often times confusing) location known to the rest of Missoula. We called it the Northside Revitalization Project. The Montana Community Development Corporation and the City of Missoula have both taken note of the revitalized energy emerging in the past years. It’s quaint older houses, diversity of people, and the anchor of the Kettlehouse local watering hole helps!

Continues after the jump

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


If you're interested in working on a Missoula Art and Culture Alliance, Cultural planning, arts districts, live-work spaces, etc... You are invited to an informational meeting at the Missoula Public Library on Tuesday, April 6th at 6:30 pm. I will present information about what cultural planning is, and how a long-term plan will help our arts communities, create economic development opportunities for Missoula, and create jobs. The presentation portion will be about 20-25 minutes, and then I will pose some questions for discussion. This first portion of the meeting will be helpful for anyone that is simply curious about this topic and wants to know more. The latter half of the meeting will be more about volunteering and serving on a committee. We'll keep time for each topic, and end the meeting at 7:30.

At around 7:15, I will propose a timeline for the next couple months, to give you an idea of what kind of work is needed right now, so you can ascertain your ability to volunteer or serve on the committee or other work group. I will stay until 8pm to answer further questions about the committee, which is now officially a part of the Missoula Cultural Council! I will also have links and handouts galore.

See you there,

Debby Florence

Monday, March 8, 2010

First Friday, March 5th

This month's First Friday was much more varied than usual.. and it was impossible to go see everything. Each venue was packed with people, the streets were lively, and I daresay it was almost too crowded to get to see much art. The whole thing starts with Mark Heyka looking at the First Friday Gallery Walking Guide I created and distributed all over, and wraps up with Charles Martin and I having a shoot-out. My favorite thing--- every environment I went into was different from the last: I listened to Irish music, then on to Gamelon music, and then to a rock band. Then out onto the streets to meet lobbyists, protestors and petition holders. All taking place almost simultaneously. My final stop was the Ceretana, where you'll see Jonathan's work in the photos.

Note that First Friday was packed, but its NOT tourist season. Thus we can deduce that the experience is meaningful for residents, and lots of them. This is very heartening. I'm no photographer, so trying to whisk my camera around while also participating was a challange to say the least. I feel that these are (blurry) pinpoint references to a (kind of blurry) 360-degree landscape. And you're missing out on a whole ton of interesting jibberjabber.

Anyway, on with the pictures.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Austin's Cultural Plan

I'm reading this today: Create Austin, The City of Austin's Cultural Plan, and thought I would share it. The level of detail is fantastic for those trying to get a more clear understanding about cultural planning. Check out their work plan.  Looking forward to First Friday tonight, and plan to make a post about it!  Take my survey!  :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cultural Plan Update:

Take My Cultural Plan Survey Here!

Read about the Cultural Plan and the Downtown Master Plan here

Since February 13th, I have spoken with over 40 arts and cultural leaders in Missoula about this issue. When I say leaders, I mean people who run community arts projects, people who show their art, people who perform often in our community, people who organize arts events, promote bands, run businesses. Also those who teach young people, use the arts to heal , and those who raise cultural awareness. Some are members of large organizations that contribute a ton to our city, some are involved with city government, some work at the University. Within about 2 weeks, I've talked directly with at least 40 people who play impactful roles in our community. And I have appointments with more. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has taken their time to give me feedback! Your encouragement and thoughtful input has been invaluable to me!

Speaking of which, I would like to get some of that on paper, so I can start to build a strong case. That's why I just created a survey-- It will take you 3 minutes + to fill out. The only reason it will take you more than 3 minutes is because I created optional spaces for comments. And I would LOVE your comments. But you dont have to. At least say if you agree with the idea of a cultural plan. Take the survey here. Its so short and it WILL matter. I need a pile of stuff to plop on people's desks! ---WOOSH! --If you're into this idea, I cant make a difference without you behind me. You are my supporting evidence.

Also, I am planning a meeting for those who want to get more involved. If you're interested in attending, email me. It is tentativly going to be Tuesday March 23, in the evening, so save the date!

Spread the word! Thanks!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hey! Its the best collaborative art project ever!!!!!!!!!!

There is a big question mark in downtown Missoula right now. And with Macy’s leaving, economic uncertainty is on everyone’s mind. According to the Missoulian, John Engan has received proposals that could expand the role of art and culture in our city. In fact, a Cultural Plan is called for in the Missoula Greater Downtown Master Plan . This includes a Performing Arts Center and a Cultural District. Much of this is yet to be defined. That is where our window of opportunity resides. It might take a couple hours for you catch up on current policies, and spend a little bit of creative energy responding. But we need to articulate concrete plans and demand usable policies from our City Council and local organizations. This Cultural Plan can be the groundwork for true community arts and cultural advancement-- not to mention economic stimulus. (Read about Cultural Plans elsewhere)

As artists we’re really familiar with economic uncertainty. Many of us respond by collaborating to share resources. Sometimes we find success, but thus far our arts community still voices concern over fragmentation. Every arts group I interact with wishes for more unified support of the arts, cross - pollination between organizations, better community access.

We want to bring the arts to mainstream culture because we believe its transformative and brain-enhancing powers make children into better learners, promote civic engagement, and stimulate the economy. Just as importantly, we want to keep our talented artists and creative professionals (ahem…ourselves!) in Missoula, so we don’t give up and move to Portland. Plus, like many other small cities in the US and Europe, we recognize the value of collaboration over competition, and understand the economic value of multi-use spaces.

My dear, amazing artists, revolutionaries, and visionaries, I think there’s a new direction we can go with this desire. But it’s time to cross some friend-group lines. And, especially, some generation gaps. We can make far more productive use of our energy than writing business plans, grant proposals, seeking 501c3 status, and scraping together rent. Okay those things are important tasks, too. But, if we want to see something change in our arts and culture atmosphere, we must mobilize in a grassroots manner and be more effective, more vocal in the right places, with the right amount of research and evidence behind us. For example, I propose a bunch of us pitch in to bring some experienced cultural planners to Missoula to help us do this. But first more of us need to get up to speed on Missoula’s goals thus far.

Imagine if there were policies that protected a Cultural District so that artists had better (cheaper) access to living and work spaces. What if it couldn’t become gentrified, but remained a cultural hub? Check out what Boston has accomplished through zoning. They made an artist district that really seems to be working. In this way, separate organizations can maintain autonomous vision, individual artists dont have to become non-profit administrators ( if they dont want). Arts ZONING can help the very diverse visions flourish because maybe one arts space isnt the answer for everyone.

Skim this site, as there are a lot of resources...

Also , Linda McCarthy, Director of the Missoula Downtown Association, wrote something great in InBusiness last week: "Next generation of workers wants what Missoula offers"

I ask you to join me in bridging longstanding gaps between organizations and businesses in our town. This work is already happening, which excites me. But more leadership from the "alternative arts" community is needed. If you have felt left out of the process, this means you. We are in a position where our creative capitol has huge economic value, but we have to put down our egos and be willing to cross into strange territory to make a difference. You’re probably right to be turned off by politics, but I am telling you, that political landscape is where our opportunity sits, and we would be wise to get involved.

Here is what you can do right now :

-Read a lot. Read the Downtown Master Plan.

-Read past articles in the Missoulian and Independent, and read all the links I included above.
- I want to hear what you think, or how your area of expertise can inform this subject.

Here are some things we can do together:

1) Form a diverse group of arts and cultural leaders to advocate for changes in the role of arts in Missoula
2) Advocate for the Cultural District that is called for in the Downtown Master Plan.
3) Advocate that commercial and industrial zoning be amended to include Live-Work spaces for artists

If you’re an active artist in Missoula, your involvement is needed at any level, even if meetings are not your thing. Stay tuned on Artmelt as well, I will post more updates here. Also, feel free to comment to this post. Are you already involved ? Can you help me learn more?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mi Chacra (My Land) by Bozeman Flimmaker - Jason Burlage

Jason Burlage, a Bozeman Filmmaker, was kind of enough to send us some info about his Film Mi Chacra, which will debut in Montana for the first time at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival on Friday February 19th at 5:30pm.  So be sure to support a fellow Montanan at one of the Northwest's premiere documentary film festivals.

“This documentary takes you into the real life of Feliciano, his family, his land, his terrible doubts, and his dreams. No stereotypes, just life, beautiful and cruel at the same time.  I love the honesty of Mi Chacra and was touched by the patient and beautiful approach to this Peruvian reality,” said Roberto Forns-Broggi, a native of Peru and Spanish professor at Metro State College of Denver who introduced the film at the Denver Film Festival.

Press Release info after the jump

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Open Field Artists at the Downtown Dance Collective

Here are some photos I (Jonathan Marquis) took on first night at the Open Field Artists show "Da Floresta".  The photo's order in the post reflect the unfolding of the performance. The OFA will be performing "Da Floresta" again at the Crystal Theater February 4,5, and sure to check it out and support live art.