Posted on

Everyone is an artist 

An artist creates.

Everyone creates.

But not everyone is conscious of this, not even the artist.

Having taught, mentored, and coached thousands of people all over the world in everything from dancing and choreographing to making more money or improving their relationships, I’ve seen that one of the biggest gifts a person can realize is that they are always creating their experience of life, whether they choose the title of artist or not.

Why does this matter to you? Because most people have an intrinsic desire to improve their life experience, to create more… connection, freedom, prosperity, joy, health, or love. But they don’t consciously see their own creative acts within that desire.

(I won’t go into a ton of mindset advice here. You can check my blog, Instagram or Facebook, or my website for press interviews to dig more deeply into that!)

For many years, I’ve asked the question, when did we start seeing art as separate from everyday life?

My passion, as an artist, teacher, and healer, has been to help us remember that we always have the power to make our lives a song, a dance, or a poem. Artistry does not exist “over there.”

Indigenous shamans and medicine people were known to ask a person these questions if they became unwell, depressed, or dis-eased:

When was the last time you danced?

When was the last time you sang?

When was the last time you told a story?

When was the last time you sat alone in silence?

Our creativity is medicine. Social sculptor and professor Shelley Sacks (a student of Joseph Beuys) introduced the idea of “aesthetic” as a counter to “anesthesia.”  Art has the power to unnumb us, to wake us up to a sensorial experience beyond our current perceptions of reality.

Everyone is an artist.

When we wake up to our own creative power, we ignite possibility, transformation, and an evolution of our human experience. 

The artist journeys into the unknown, guided by curiosity. She challenges us, introduces new perspectives, and confronts us with delight or inspiration. She creates (or mirrors our own) chaos, so we can discover a new order.

Rhythm, timing, quality, color, shape, sound, and space are the tools the artist employs to usher us into the unknown – the only place where creative transformation occurs.

Isn’t that what we’re here to do? Evolve, transform, engage, and create more beauty in this dynamic universe. 

You may be thinking, well, that’s not what I do at my job or when I’m taking care of my kids.

However, this subtle and profound act of creation is always present and worthy of remembering. Yours may not look like a canvas, novel, or dance, but we can ask ourselves, what kind of world do I want to create today? 

Or even at a more basic level, what experience do I want to have when I talk to my loved one tonight? What experience do I want to create while eating my next meal? How can I make the next hour of my day feel like a poem?

All these little choices matter and add up over time.

When we unnumb ourselves and see that life is our creation – where we have so much more choice than we may have realized, and where aesthetics are more than just frivolous – we free ourselves into a divine dance of life.

We lead and are led, and the guidance comes from deep within.

The artist knows this.

We all know this.

May all artists continue to create touchstones and reminders for the beauty, wonder, mystery, and expansive nature of our existence. This is where transformation abounds and love knows no limits.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Boulé is a dance artist and teacher who was based in New York for 21 years and currently calls Missoula home. Her research in energy work, somatic practices, spirituality, and mindset provides the framework to create aesthetically enlivened experiences that remind us of the potential of what and who we are. She is a “Bessie” Award-winning performer, having collaborated with Miguel Gutierrez (2001-16), Bebe Miller, John Jasperse, and Deborah Hay, amongst others. Boulé has received commissions and presentations from The Chocolate Factory, Danspace Project, Triple Canopy, Baryshnikov Arts Center, The Kitchen, Summer Stages Dance @ICA Boston, River to River Festival, American Realness, The Met Breuer (with Okkyung Lee), and ISSUE Project Room. Awards include the Distinguished Legacy Award from the University of Illinois, NY Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, Boekelheide Creativity Award, Jerome Foundation Travel & Study Grant, and residencies from LMCC’s Extended Life Dance Development Program, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, MacDowell, Yaddo, Bemis Center, Movement Research, and Dance Ireland. She’s also the founder of Michelle Boulé Coaching, offering online group and private coaching, retreats, and speaking, and has been featured in The New York Times, New Yorker, Dance Magazine, Bloomberg radio, KTLA, The Today Show, and Thrive Global. amongst others.

Image used in graphic taken by Chance Jackson.

Posted on

Earlier this year, Arts Missoula found out that our building was being put up for lease. So, after many years in our 327 E Broadway space, we’ve decided to take this opportunity to look toward the future and find a space closer to the main artery of downtown Missoula.

We’re SO excited to really lean into the advocacy portion of our mission, and be an accessible resource for the Missoula community in our new location. We want people to walk into our space and know what Arts Missoula does, and what the arts in our community look like.

As our team temporarily moves remote while we look for the perfect space, we want to emphasize that we’re still available and we’re going to keep showing up for things! We’ll be out there at arts & culture events around town–making connections and making sure we’re visible as the official arts agency of Missoula.

Beginning July 19, 2022, we will no longer be in the Watercolor Computer Training building. If you need to get ahold of us, you can find the staff’s emails here or call 541-0860.

Also: a big thank you to Todd and Denise Loran of Watercolor Computer Training for hosting us in your building for all these years! We appreciate you so much.

Posted on

The BIPOC Arts Advisory Council is excited to announce the panelists for the July 24th session of our Summer Speaker Series on the topic “Cultural Identity in the Arts” moderated by Joseph Grady. The topic of this discussion will be Cultural Stereotypes, and information about the panelists can be found below. This event is free and open to the public at the ZACC Show Room.

Shadow Devereaux, also known by his stage name Foreshadow, is a Salish & Blackfeet hip-hop artist from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana. His sound is described as a blend of modern trap rap and boom bap that includes descriptive lyrics which illustrate his own life experiences. Although he has his own style, the timbre, texture, and tonality of his compositions can be described as having influences from the likes of his idols Mac Miller and J. Cole. As a child growing up on the reservation, Shadow found his passion for music at the age of seven when his father gifted him a cassette tape recording of Tupac’s greatest hits. As he listened to this cassette religiously, he became more enamored with hip-hop. Later, at the age of fifteen, Shadow recorded his first ever rap song. Since then, he has remained motivated to make a living through an art form that he truly loves. Among Shadow’s myriad of accomplishments, his major feats consist of sharing a stage with well-known musicians such as Waka Flocka Flame, Machine Gun Kelly, Yelawolf, Deltron 3030, Tech N9ne, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Although his list of musical accomplishments is quite impressive, his most meaningful achievements include keynote speaking to a graduating class of high school seniors, organizing a show for the youth on his reservation, and collaborating on a youth music project titled “Healing Through Music.” Shadow’s passion for music, his family, his supporters, and representation for Native American youth continue to be the driving forces behind his unwavering devotion to creating music.

Mitchell McCabe, originally from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, currently resides in Missoula, MT. He recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC). As a quadriplegic, he faces many challenges daily that require significant mental strength. He lives independently and manages his own care by living a self-directed lifestyle and strives to be as independent as possible.

He has gained valuable life experience as he sought to discover his own path and establish a satisfying career. The challenges he deals with on a daily basis as a quadriplegic, clearly influences his decision to not only succeed educationally, but to grow as a person. Through his own journey, he now knows that he is passionate about helping individuals who need assistance to overcome their own obstacles. He wants to help others find the success that he, himself has found.

In his free time, Mitchell likes to escape into the world of Art. Art is his passion, which he finds to be uplifting and freeing. The type of artwork he does, resembles that of his traditional culture and Montana’s beautiful landscapes, from the high mountains to low plains. He tends to use pencils, charcoal and ink, more recently changing direction in his style by engaging in painting. He is hoping to find a unique style that is eye-popping, leaving people in awe. Since he draws with his mouth, he wants to bring out another perspective of shock and awe!

Stella Nall is a multimedia artist and poet from Bozeman, and a First Descendant of the Apsáalooke Tribe. She graduated from the University of Montana in 2020 with a BFA in Printmaking, a BA in Psychology and a minor in Art History and Criticism. She now lives and works in Missoula, where she is involved in the community as a member of the WMCI Indigenous Art Advisory Committee, by playing in the local band Cry Baby, and by frequently
sharing her work through exhibitions, publications, murals, and interactive installations which invite community participation. Her work lives in murals across the state, as well as in numerous public and private collections, including The Montana Museum of Art and Culture, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and The Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.

Josh Taira (Daruma Party) an illustrator, designer, and podcaster based out of Missoula. He watches a ton of anime, plays lots of FFXIV, and has an insatiable hunger for tuna onigiri from Japanese 7-Elevens. Recently, he’s been listening to a lot of Get Played! and thinks you should, too.

Posted on

I’ve been painting for many years and I’ve finally come to the conclusion that when it comes to creating a painting, Nike has it right –  Just Do It! 

Just do it. Just open those tubes of paint. Just grab your favorite brush. Just situate a blank canvas on your easel. Just disrupt its emptiness with a grand flourish of a confident brushstroke.

Sounds easy enough, right?  

Well, anybody who creates, knows that it’s rarely that simple. So, when that seems too daunting, I lay a blank canvas on the floor and pour paint onto it. Then I spritz water on it, sprinkle on some salt and sparkles, splash some isopropyl alcohol around, tip the canvas this way and that and, viola!, I have a colorful, sparkly mess. From there, I begin the all-important enhancement phase.  

Once my sparkly mess is dry, I stare at it until a scene forms in my mind. It could be a forest glen, jagged mountain range or a far-off nebula. Whatever the case, I willingly and blissfully go wherever it leads me. I begin to emphasize (and/or add) the pine trees, mountain peaks or stars. 

Now for the boring technicalities: I set out the paints that will complement the background colors. I focus on balance by not over-populating one side. I try to remember the rule of thirds – putting standout objects on the intersections of the two horizontal grid lines with the two verticals. And I put the focal point where it will have the most impact. (Not that I’ve ever been one hundred percent certain about where that is. Sigh.) 

I suppose the first half of this method sounds haphazard and disorganized but it gets the creative process underway. And it can help train you to be more spontaneous and loose. If you’ve been striving to become more “painterly”, this method may help. 

And it’s fun! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Logan is a local acrylic painter and self-published author. You can see more of her work on Instagram, or purchase work on her Etsy.

Posted on

I began my new role as Executive Director of Arts Missoula on June 1st, 2022 but today, July 1st,  is the first day alone in the office.  I’ve done my major tasks for the day and my focus shifts to my little nook in the back of the office.  With NPR on in the background and the summer sun shining in through the window, I’ve taken all the files from Fiscal Year 21/22 down to storage.  New beginnings… I’m cleaning.  Compressed air for the keyboard and Clorox wipes for the surfaces… It just feels good to do your own cleaning when cozying into a new space.   I’ve rummaged around the storage room and found a beer stein from a GermanFest past and a globe, which I have always wanted and have never purchased for myself.  I watered the plant which I’ve decided to name Seymour.  I smile.  I’ve found my place.

You may know me from the Downtown Dance Collective which I founded and ran for 13 years.  I am a SPARK! Arts artist and chances are, if you have had a middle schooler, I’ve taught them dance.  Or maybe you’ve tapped or jazz danced with me through the University of Montana.  Or maybe you’ve seen me at a Missoula Children’s Theatre or Community Theatre in a performance I’ve directed, performed in or choreographed. Or maybe you’ve seen the Autism curriculum I created for Heartism – An Austism Community Center in Corvallis, MT.  Or maybe you’ve seen me dance Flamenco.  I was a cat once in CATS the musical.  Electra.  She was just a run of the mill alley cat with lots of panache and a nice collar.  I’ve helped dozens of organizations with their fundraisers…Living Art Light Show and Off the Rack with Blue Mountain Clinic, to name a couple of favorites.  I’ve directed, choreographed, organized, founded, funded, marketed, produced, taught and tapped my way through 20+ wonderful years here in Missoula, Montana.    

The pandemic hit and like every other living soul on the planet, my life changed over night.  I locked the doors to the Downtown Dance Collective on March 13th, 2020.  Of course, I didn’t know then that I would never open those doors for business again.  Funny too.  The crash bar stuck so bad that day. I could barely get it locked.  It seemed even the building was sad that day. Many months past and I despaired.  What could possibly replace the joy and love I experienced at the DDC for so long?  How would I ever make the impact on the community I love so much.  How would I ever string enough work together to eek out a living?  I couldn’t answer those questions very well for quite a while.  I filled my time with about 300 jobs.  Lots of teaching online, producing and editing videos…  I catered with Bravo Catering.  Thanks Ryan!  And I even worked at Showcase Pet Grooming. Thanks Kathy!  Thanks to Sienna with SPARK!, Ashley and Shauna with Montana Dance Works, Heidi and Rob at the University of Montana,  Jessica and Suzanne with Heartism, (Thanks NEA Grant!!), John at John R Howard Fine Art and Meagan at Studio M. If you employed me and I forgot you, I am sorry.

I managed to make it all work.  But something was missing… A friend of mine told me I was the very definition of resilience.  But, ya know something.  I was tired of being so resilient.

And then one fine day, this job came up.  ED at Arts Missoula.  Holy heck I could hardly believe it.  As you probably already know, these types of job don’t come up very often.  I was thrilled to apply, though I knew it would be tough.  I could name at least 25 people I thought could rock this job.  But, in the end…well, you know already.

I am so honored and I am so grateful to the board and to the staff that chose me. Thank you Magda, Udo, Sienna, and Breanne.   I am so looking forward to working with you.  Thank You Tom.  You have been so kind in training me this month.  I have big shoes to fill.  I look forward to carrying the baton forward and carrying on your 18 years of work.  

And I am so ready to serve you, Missoula.  I am a passionate advocate of the arts and I promise to work my ass off; rejoining the ranks of the many passionate souls who make this beautiful community we call home a vibrant and arts-filled place to live.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heather Adams is the Executive Director of Arts Missoula. You can read her staff bio here.


Art & Culture news & events delivered to your inbox every Monday morning.



Like us and follow us, and we'll keep you updated on art and cultural events happening in your community.