Top 9 First Friday Shows You Don’t Want to Miss

You may not know this, but the First Friday Art Walk happens every single month in Missoula, come rain, or sleet, or pounding blizzard. However in the summer is when it really takes off. With so many of us flocking downtown and out of doors to absorb every last drop of sunshine before the smoke pours in and the dreaded 10 month winter begins anew – it’s an ideal time for all kinds of business to get involved. This month’s art crawl is packed to the gills with over 30 shows happening simealtaneously. To get the full story on every event and narrow down your options, you can check out the Missoula Cultural Council’s Gallery Guide. But with so many options to chose from, I thought I’d pick out a few of the most exciting shows happening on Friday to help get you started.

1. The Last First Friday

It’s the beginning of summer and the end of an era. The Monte Dolack Gallery will be closing its downtown doors this summer. Posters, Prints, and Cards of Monte Dolack and Mary Beth Percival’s work will still be available for purchase at Frame of Mind. While originals and new works shift to online sales and private viewings, Dolack plans to spend more time creating new paintings, prints, and sculptures.


Stop in on First Friday, June 5 to say goodbye to the gallery and celebrate a lifetime of work that will continue on. Dolack will be premiering his latest piece, Coming Home, commissioned by the Mehmke Steam Tractor Museum in Great Falls, as Myss Lyss serenades us with her ukulele.

2-6.  Westside | Northside Bike Challenge

Did you know that First Friday happens beyond Higgins Avenue? In fact for years now the Northside and Westside neighborhoods have been putting together some of the best shows in Missoula.

NWside Bike Challenge

In order to draw the downtown art crowd, celebrate the neighborhood, and promote art and bicycles in all their glory, several Northside and Westside First Friday venues are collaborating on a grand scavenger hunt! First Friday goers are challenged to use their bicycles (or feet, or other non-motorized form of transport) to visit all the Northside and Westside First Friday art venues.

Contenders must collect a stamp or sticker for your Bike Challenge Passport at each participating location. This is a small booklet in which you log your stamp or sticker proving you visited each venue. Passports can be obtained at any participating First Friday Venue. A full passport means you will be eligible for the grand prize drawing, and special deals or prizes at participating locations. The Clay Studio will do the grand prize drawing at 9 that night. You do not need to be present to win, but you will need to show your full passport to a Clay Studio representative in order to be entered into the drawing!

Participating venues include the Clay Studio of Missoula, Real Good Art Space, Zootown Arts Community Center, Draught Works Brewery, and the Blue Pine Gallery (at the Missoula Community Food Co-op). Also, be sure to stop by the Burns Street Bistro with your passport for free dessert.

You can find more information about the challenge and all of the First Friday happenings at the Missoula Cultural Council website.

7. Street Art Pianos

Remember last summer when you’d be walking downtown and hear someone playing a piano on the street? Well the piano project is back, known as Play It Missoula, this time around there will be 6 pianos scattered throughout Missoula, lovingly painted by some very talented local artists. Head to the Missoula Downtown Association’s website to find where they are and learn more about the artists involved.


Photo by ©John Sieber.


8-9. The Last Best Solstice | Art on the River

On June 21 the Missoula Cultural Council will be hosting a riverfront gallery and artist showcase in Bess Reed Park behind the Holiday Inn. The event will feature over 30 local artists as well as fine art from the Clay Studio of Missoula, E3 Convergence Gallery, Montana Art & Framing, the Monte Dolack Gallery, and Murphy ~ Jubb Fine Art. Artists from multiple disciplines will be creating new works on site and providing demos.

In addition to live art, the Last Best Solstice | Art on the River will also feature an outdoor gallery with one of kind works for sale, Art on Tap – the popular drinking and painting class, as well as brunch, mimosas, and bloody marys from Brooks & Browns.

Solstice FF

Catch a sneak peek of some of the artists this First Friday from 5 to 8 pm at Bernice’s Bakery and Hunter Bay Coffee Bar.

For more information on these events and all the other art happenings on First Friday and the month of June, visit the Missoula Gallery Guide.