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MMAC Celebrates Montana Artists with Summer Exhibitions

 The Montana Museum of Art & Culture at The University of Montana offers two exhibitions through Aug. 25. 

The exhibitions, “Cultural Homesteaders: Montana Institute of the Arts from the MMAC Permanent Collection” and “Edith Freeman: Montana Seasons,”are on display now. 

“Cultural Homesteaders: Montana Institute of the Arts from the MMAC Permanent Collection” features selections from the Montana Institute of the Arts.   Founded in 1948, the MIA was a statewide grassroots organization that tied together the relatively isolated practitioners of various arts and crafts across Montana through publications, an annual festival and travelling exhibits. 

In 1954, the MIA began a collection of artworks solicited from member artists. The organization collected for more than 30 years during a time when there were few other collecting institutions in the state and none that focused exclusively on fine art. The MIA collection illustrates the history of the development of the arts in Montana during this time period. In 1994, this collection was transferred to the MMAC and is now part of its Permanent Collection.

MMAC curator of art Brandon Reintjes will present a public lecture, “The History of the MIA,” at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, in in the PAR/TV Center’s Masquer Theater. Following the lecture, there will be a closing reception and gathering of MIA artists from 6 to 8 p.m. in the PAR/TV Center lobby. 

“The MIA artists we have notified thus far about this exhibition have expressed appreciation and excitement about a reunion of sorts,” said MMAC Director Barbara Koostra. “Their positive response signifies the richness of the Montana arts community from the 1950s through the 1980s.”

Freeman (1913-1992) was a noted artist, rancher and teacher. She was born in Broadview and in 1919 moved to Billings, where she attended public schools and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University-Billings). Freeman taught in a number of elementary schools throughout her 30-year career. Upon retirement, she began her second career as a printmaker. A master of reduction woodcut printing, she studied with noted Billings artist Isabelle Johnson. 

Among many honors, Freeman was the recipient of the Montana Governor’s Award for the Arts in 1983 and also received an Eastern Montana College Distinguished Alumna Award. Her work is held in museum collections throughout Montana as well as in numerous private collections.

“Edith Freeman: Montana Seasons” is a traveling exhibition sponsored through the Museum and Art Gallery Directors Association-Montana, on loan from the Yellowstone Art Museum Permanent Collection.

MMAC’s hours are noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Friday. For more information call 406-243-2019 or go online to http://www.umt.edu/montanamuseum.