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Two UM Exhibitions Highlight Collector Passions

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The Montana Museum of Art & Culture will host two new exhibitions, "Henry Freedman: Imagining New Worlds" and "Four Collections," August 8th through September 21st at the University of Montana. Both exhibitions examine the act of collecting and center on the unique place that objects hold in people's lives.

The exhibitions will be held in the Meloy and Paxson galleries in the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center. An opening reception for both exhibitions will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, August 8th, in the PAR/TV Center lobby. The reception is free and open to the public.

"Henry Freedman: Imagining New Worlds" includes more than 100 new collages and constructions by Missoula resident Henry Freedman. Collage has been called "the single most revolutionary formal innovation in artistic representation to occur in (the 20th) century" by critic Gary Ulmer.

Originally from Boston and trained as a painter, Freedman is professor emeritus of art history from Keene State College in New Hampshire. Despite the demands of academia, Freedman persisted in making art throughout his career. "Because I continue to create, I am a better teacher," he said. "Art and art history are not separate – they are facets of the same jewel." 

Freedman's art references a vast knowledge of art history, passion as a collector and love of travel. He has been to Italy more than 25 times. In his art, Freedman makes remarkable associations and connections. He insists on using recycled and throwaway materials to take advantage of what he calls the "spontaneous accident."

In creating, he cannot have the end result in mind. Instead, he lets both the image and title develop through the act of creating. If the art work doesn't resolve, he throws it away. He has, however, developed a vocabulary of imagery such as gold stars, balloons and lollipops, which are repeated in multiple pieces.

"In our frenetic society, reality is often the result of experiences and images juxtaposed accidentally," he said. "So, too, in my works clashing and varied bits and pieces are brought together automatically, expressing and reflecting reality. But the reality which we see is temporary. It is the mystery which we don't see that is permanent. And it is this mystery which is the subject of my collages and assemblages."

MMAC will present an artist's talk with Freedman at 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 10th, in the Masquer Theatre. He also will present an exclusive gallery tour of his artwork at noon Saturday, September 14th, in the Paxson Gallery. Participation is limited to 28 people. RSVP by calling 406-243-2019 or emailing museum@umontana.edu.

"Four Collections" focuses on four exceptional regional collections that celebrate the richness of international culture and Montana. The exhibition invites audiences to experience outstanding cultural and fine art objects from around the globe, advancing the MMAC's mission to examine the world through the lens of our place in the Rocky Mountain West.

Included are significant baskets and objects from Canadian and Northwest tribes from a private collection; exquisite Czech and Slovakian prints from the collection of J. Scott Patnode, of Spokane, Wash.; important Montana contemporary art from the Ruth and Kim Reineking collection of Missoula; and world-class cameo glass from the collection of Toba Winston of Stevensville.

"We are grateful to all of these generous collectors for letting MMAC help tell the story of their objects and collections," MMAC director Barbara Koostra said. "It's a rare opportunity for our visitors to see objects from private collections displayed in a public museum setting."

MMAC will present a lecture by glass collector Toba Winston at 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 21st, in the Masquer Theatre.

Museum summer hours through August 24th are noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Friday. Academic hours beginning August 26th are noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. For more information, call MMAC at 406-243-2019 or go to the museum's Web site at http://www.umt.edu/montanamuseum.

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