This Week’s Missoula Arts & Culture Scene | Dec 22

By TOM BENSEN

New Year’s Eve marks the 21st annual First Night Missoula, the community-wide celebration of the arts with more than 80 events and activities throughout Downtown, University of Montana Campus, Southgate Mall, Glacier Ice Rink, McCormick Park, and Peak Health and Wellness Center from noon until midnight on December 31.  Admission buttons are $15 and are available at over 20 locations in Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley.

It all begins at noon at the annual Parade of Hats at Southgate Mall, and continues all day and afternoon, ending with the Grand Finale in the University Center at Midnight with the Drum Brothers and the Ed Norton Big Band.

Picture8The First Night Spotlight high school finalists all compete at the Wilma Theatre beginning at 8:00 p.m. For more information about any and all First Night events, call 541-0860 or visit our website.

Current exhibits at the Missoula Art Museum include The Art of Human Conflict Conflict through December 24; Pamela Caughey: Ubiquitous: Migration of Pathogens through December 24; Crossing the River: Hmong Story Cloths through December 24; Kate Hunt: Recent Works through February 21, 2015 (pictured here); Elizabeth Dove: Corpus of the Unknowable through January 31, 2015; Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts: Selected Works through March 21, 2015; Pat Zentz: Trio through March 28, 2015.

The Montana Museum of Art & Culture presents Amanda Browder: End of the Infinite in the Meloy Gallery (pictured here), and Vanessa German: Bitter Root in the Paxson Gallery.  Both exhibits run through January 10, 2015.  To honor MMAC’s 120th anniversary, the museum has published the first-ever guide to the permanent collection, The Art of the State: 120 Artworks for 120 Years. Learn more here

Fact & Fiction presents Ashley McKee signing Missoula Rabble, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. December 28 at F&F Downtown.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre has embarked on a new collaboration with the China National Theatre for Children (CNTC) in Beijing.  CNTC will soon send two accomplished actors to Missoula to conduct a three-week internship, during which time they will train and work alongside MCT tour teams.  In late December, Mr. Yang Cheng and Ms. Wang Kun will arrive in Missoula for a three-week internship.  The training begins December 29th and concludes in mid-January with their participation in a residency week in Washington State, as they assist with a production of MCT’s original musical The Princess and the Pea. For more information, visit the website.

Dunrovin Ranch in Lolo presents Days At Dunrovin, its first ever on-site/on-line book club featuring books about Western Women. We are honored to have author and University of Montana professor Judy Blunt serve as the on-site host and Diane Diane J. Hoffman from Princeton, NJ. to serve as our on-line host. Conversations with Judy Blunt and other authors will be broadcast via our web camera and include responding to questions from on-line participants. Call 273-7745 for more information.

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Bill Mize in concert at the Crystal Theater January 10, at7:30

World-Wide Cinema at the Missoula Public Library presents Grigris, Friday, January 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the Library large meeting room. Despite his bum leg, 25-year-old Grigris has hopes of becoming a professional dancer, making some extra cash putting his moves to good use at a local club.  Drama in French and Arabic with English subtitles Call 721-BOOK.

Grammy award winning Tennessee fingerstyle guitarist Bill Mize will be in concert in support of his latest CD release “The Back of Beyond”, an homage to his East Tennessee roots, at the Crystal Theater, January 10 at 7:30 p.m.  Call 829-0508.  Tickets on sale 12/19 at Rockin Rudys and Bill’s website.

The Light Our Bridges Missoula committee has raised money over the past two years to light the two Missoula pedestrian bridges. Light Our Bridges recently illuminated the Van Buren Street footbridge with white LED lights, and will light up the Madison Street walkway in the spring. To participate in the “Light Our Way” fundraising campaign, donors can “buy a light” for $25 each in honor or in memory of a loved one.  For more information or to donate, visit the LOB website.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre invites K-12 children to follow the intrepid space traveler, Gulliver, in his rocket ship to explore strange new lands.  The winter performing arts class is open to all K-12 children and begins on January 21 or 22.  This MCT original musical version of Gulliver’s Travels is also a world-premiere.  The original story was first penned by Jonathan Swift in 1726, with Gulliver ending up in the most intriguing lands including Lilliput and Brobdingnag, meeting up with the most unlikely characters-large and small. In 2010, the story was made into a major motion picture, starring Jack Black.  MCT promises its version will be just as unique and adventurous, with a dash of its signature twist.  Get ready for Gulliver’s Travels…in space!  Classes start either January 21 or 22 and are held after school on Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  The cost to register is $100.00 for each child (a limited number of scholarships are available). For more information or to register, visit the website or call 729-1911.

Aikido Missoula presents Classes for Beginning Adults.  Discover the strength of a peaceful spirit in the New Year.  The 4 Week Intro for beginning adults starts Tuesday, January 13 at 5:30 p.m.  This class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m., through February 5.  For more information, call 549-8387 or visit the website.

The Montana Repertory Theatre begins its 2015 national tour of The Great Gatsby with a Gala on January 23 at the Montana Theatre at the University of Montana beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Curtain time for the show begins at 6:30 followed by an elegant dinner and dancing.  For more information call 243-6809.

The International Wildlife Film Festival is now accepting submissions for the 2015 festival, happening in Missoula, Montana April 18-25 at the historic Roxy Theater.  Now in its 38th year, the week-long event will feature new and exciting films, special guests, workshops, seminars, field trips, technology sessions, product demos, parties and dynamic networking events. With 6,000 annual attendees, IWFF engages Missoula’s progressive community with dozens of screenings and events like the WildWalk Parade. A filmmakers’ festival, IWFF focuses on films and filmmakers, and celebrates emerging artists and the future of wildlife & environmental media. Our expanded programming welcomes all films about the natural world, from environmental and conservation films, to issue driven explorations of earth and its inhabitants.

For more information about arts events in the Missoula area, visit our website

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Tom BensenTom Bensen has lived in Missoula since 1986, and has been the executive director of the Missoula Cultural Council since June 2004. He has directed First Night Missoula each New Year’s Eve since 1997.   He is a member of Missoula’s choral ensemble Dolce Canto, and enjoys being outdoors, whether it is hiking, biking, skiing, walking the dogs, or mowing the lawn.  His wife Susan works for Montana Public Radio, and their son Peter attends Hellgate HighSchool.