It's rare for the organizers of an art opening to encourage people to make their exhibition the last stop on First Friday, but there are benefits. People can mingle and talk without feeling as though they need to rush to the next showing. They have second and third chances to look at a piece.

That's the hope for the art students behind "Seat's Taken," a multi-media group showing at FreeCycles community bike shop that draws on sculpture, performance, dance and live music.

The show was organized by University of Montana BFA candidates Padyn Humble and Erin Langely.

"Having the events be more social allows the art to be more tangible, too. You get into interact with it more," Humble said.

"There's room for the work to breathe," Langely said. They hope there's more opportunities to interact with the art and others.

Humble, who works in painting, photography and sculpture, sometimes with gender as main theme, has shown at Butterfly Herbs and the Western Montana LGBT Center. Langely, who's produced many visually kinetic, large-scale abstract expressionist paintings, has been part of a group show at the Dana Gallery and juried shows on campus.

For younger artists, organizing a group show can be a way to make their own opportunities.

"Sometimes there aren't that many options around town," Humble said, part of the reason for the show.

"Seat's Taken" will be different than many group shows on a number of fronts. Their venue, FreeCycles, doesn't lend itself to hanging work. Instead, the artists they've invited have worked on site-specific installation work or sculptural pieces.

The theme was spurred when Humble was moving into a new apartment, and had stacked the art on a chair in what happened to be a visually pleasing manner. He and Langely spun that moment of serendipity out into a broader prompt for artists to work from:

In the artist statement, they write, "Beyond function, the chair is a symbolically substantial object. An empty chair highlights the absence of a person. A broken chair can connote trauma or loss. The leader of the meeting is a chair. Chair is the French word for flesh. This selection of work is a collection of artists' responses to the chair; its functionality, its symbolic presence, and its sculptural potential. As a prompt, each artist was instructed to select an inspiring chair, and was given freedom of medium."

The full list of artists include Joshua Masias, John Christenson, Megan Escene, Jordan Chesnut, Jon Green, Daphne Sweet, Nick Kakavas, Christina Harrelson, Langely and Humble.

Logan Prtichard is choreographing a piece for two dancers, and there are several other performance pieces scheduled for the night.

Three musical acts will play: Charlie Apple of the beats-and-samples duo PartyGoers; indie-pop darlings Fantasy Suite; and Wilma Laverne Miner, one of the best vocalists working around town.

The show will take place one-night only at FreeCycles community bike shop, 732 S. First St. W. It starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. There will be beer for those age 21 and up.

Ceramic lamps

Koral Halperin, a ceramicist with a sometimes whimsical bent, is taking his work in a quirky functional direction.

Halperin was a long-term resident at the Clay Studio of Missoula from 2014 to 2016. Since moving to Missoula, he's had two solo exhibitions with diverging moods. At the FrontierSpace gallery downtown, he exhibited cartoon-like animals — some large and some small, with some double entendres mixed in.

At his Clay Studio exhibition, he displayed his more serious-minded sculptural work: wide and narrow, tower-like constructions meticulously built from rows of coiled clay and smoothed to a finish.

His new show, "Let There Be Lamps," is firmly in the whimsical category: functional lamps constructed with ceramic animals as their base. A few examples he cited are "an overly dressed ladybug," an "extremely sly fox" and a bug-eyed bottom-feeder fish with a lamp in place of its bioluminescent lure.

Halperin said he's always wanted to make lighting, and saw the lamps as a means to take his work into a functional realm, something the 20-something artist has never tried. After talking with La Stella Blu, a boutique baby gift shop on the Hip Strip, he decided to pursue the lamps, with fun and design in mind rather than commentary and design, he said.

The opening reception will take place on First Friday, Aug. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m. at La Stella Blu, located at 612 S. Higgins Ave.

Tribute to bikes

At Betty's Divine, a Missoula artist and zine-maker Halisia Hubbard has "Tour De Vine," a series of gouache paintings paying tribute to the bicycle, the humble yet timeless form of transportation.

Hubbard picked out models that were important to the history of bicycle design or racing; ones with unusual frames; and ones significant in European racing culture.

"This particular marriage between man and machine — in which we invest our own energy to reap exponential results — creates a unique bond; bikes make us better, superhuman in a way, but we have to put the work in. These machines gave us our first taste of freedom when we lost our training wheels, and for many, have grown into a point of pride as a choice of vehicle," she writes in her artist statement.

There's an opening reception on First Friday, Aug. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Betty's Divine, 509 S. Higgins Ave. on the Hip Strip. There will be wine and treats from Poppy Bakery.

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