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From World War I to pioneer women, the Montana Museum of Art & Culture at the University of Montana promises a year full of diverse and interesting exhibits in 2017. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for us.

Intimate West: Women Artists in Montana 1880 – 1944

Jan. 26-May 27, 2017, in the Paxson and Meloy Galleries

This exhibition focuses on pioneering artists with important Montana ties, who lived or traveled in Montana at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and significantly contributed to the aesthetic and cultural milieu of the state. Included are Beatrice Howie Mackey, Frances Faick Walker, Fra Dana, Josephine Hale, Frances Carroll Brown, Marguerite O. Stevens, Evelyn Cameron and Mamie Elizabeth Burt as well as artists associated with Winhold Reiss’s Glacier School: Elizabeth Lochrie, Elsa Jemne, Caroline Granger, Maaron Glemby, Nellie Knopf, Katherine Leighton, Merle Olson and Lucile Van Slyck. The creative output of these artists may not, at first glance, subscribe to typical Western iconography or depict the grandeur of western geography. Their work captures the practical character and unsentimental aesthetic of the region through personal portraits and scenes of domestic life.

James Todd: Looney Tunes

June 8-Sept. 9, 2017, in the Meloy Gallery

On the occasion of his retirement from teaching at the University of Montana in 2000, James Todd’s mother paid him a visit bearing a collection of drawings he had made between the ages 5 and 8. He had not seen the drawings in over 50 years. The fluid lines of his pencil drawings of American GI’s returning from war in Europe, knights in armor, or a visit to the dentist seem to greet the artist – now in his 70s – across the years. In this exhibition and the accompanying catalog, Todd has reinterpreted his childhood drawings through woodcut printing, the medium for which he is perhaps best known today. Each drawing accompanies a contemporary print that, while based closely on the original forms, embodies the intervening decades by embellishing upon, even reimagining altogether the child’s experience. Todd has given expression to the essentially modern human experience of encountering one’s own past, across decades, through both memory and creativity.

Richard Buswell: What They Left Behind

June 8-Sept. 9, 2017, in the Paxson Gallery

As all great photographers do, Richard Buswell disrupts our normal vision. His photographs of commonplace objects, absent their typical surroundings, interfere with our comprehension, forcing us to look again. His stark, apparently simple images help us penetrate the superficial appearance of objects from Montana’s past to contemplate the multiple, complex meanings that their histories and presence convey. This exhibition presents a new body of work by the fourth-generation Montana photographer. Buswell has been photographing Montana settlement sites, ghost towns and frontier homesteads for over 40 years, and the collection of photographs displays his evolving relationship with his subject.

Over There! Montanans in the Great War

Sept. 21 – Dec. 16, 2017, in the Paxson and Meloy Galleries

At the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I, MMAC presents an exhibition that examines the lives of Montana involved with the Great War. Featured will be a U.S. ambassador, two American Infantry soldiers, an American Flying Ace and a Red Cross nurse and an artist. Using significant loans from the private collection of military historian Hayes Otoupalik and collector Paul Thomas, the exhibition will take place in conjunction with programs at the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History and the Archives and Special Collections at the Mansfield Library. Featured will be one of three operable WWI tanks, U.S. and German machine guns, rare WWI posters and an array of art made by soldiers. This exhibition is co-curated with UM professor of art history and criticism H. Rafael Chacón.

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