"Social anxieties tend to play a large role in the work," Todd Christensen wrote in his artist statement. "In many of the installations I try to capture and convey the sense of being overwhelmed and surrounded by external forces, images, ideas, etc."

Christensen, an art professor from New Mexico, has created larger installations of drawings, prints, book covers and more that formed massive ripples across gallery walls that were as beautiful as they were confusing, with some materials extending outward from the walls. The mixture of drawings and journal entries appears as though a zine or someone's diary was arrayed outward on the walls instead of hidden in a drawer or tucked on a bookshelf.

Christensen will be packing his ideas into a smaller space on First Friday, when he'll install work at FrontierSpace, the MFA-student-run gallery near the Old Post downtown.

The gallery is located in the alley a half-block west of Sushi Hana on West Pine Street. It's only open on First Friday, March 4, from 5 to 9 p.m. For more information, go to frontierspacemissoula.weebly.com.

***

At the Missoula Art Museum's auction last month, Patricia Thornton handed out small cloth prints that featured donkeys and elephants along with a few circling hearts.

"Is that a political statement?" one person asked.

The answer comes a month or so later, when the longtime Missoula printmaker and mixed-media artist shares further work in that vein at Clyde Coffee.

Her show is loosely themed around the concept of prayer flags, which she says are dedicated to Republicans, Democrats and Socialists.

"It is my sincere hope that this work will inspire kindness and compassion during this election year," she wrote in her artist statement.

Thornton's work will be on display in March at Clyde Coffee, 610 S. Higgins Ave. There's an opening reception on First Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.

***

In Emily Hall's mixed-media painting, "Irony of an Asana," a woman ducks down to the floor with legs outstretched horizontally on the floor, her head totally disappearing as her black hair forms a pool. Next to her stands a somewhat proudly oblivious ostrich.

The self-taught Missoula illustrator aims for small moments of whimsy like these in her paintings. More are on display at the Dana Gallery for her show, "My Companion," which feature dark issues handled lightly, often through pairings of humans and animals. There's an opening reception on First Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at 246 N. Higgins Ave.

***

Graphic designer Max Mahn has been creating distinctive event posters, such as the eye-catching design for last fall's Montana Book Festival, a two-color print of hikers ascending a hillside that was littered with stacks of books instead of logs for tree stumps.

For Heartless Bastards, he made two oversized ducks diving after prey in a large backyard pool, not too far from a swimmer lounging in a floating chair.

On First Friday, his work will be paired with music by rapper Big Diction for a "Candy Wrapper's Hippity Hoppity Ball" at Real Good Studios, 1205 Defoe St. It's open from 8 to 10 p.m.

Outbrain