2019 Missoula Public Art Guide

Note from Mayor engen


"At the City of Missoula, we work every day to ensure that our place remains a “place” – unique, interesting, comfortable and filled with character. Our public art is one of the ways we keep Missoula a great place. From turning gray traffic-signal boxes into community canvases to dedicating a portion of every new municipal building’s budget to an art element, our actions reflect our dedication to the visual arts as an important part of Missoula’s environment.

This guide is designed to help you explore that dedication and confirm our commitment to public art. Missoula’s Public Art Committee deserves credit and recognition for commissioning many of these works and serving as stewards to these community assets.

Please enjoy these works of art and our unique place."


Public Art in Missoula

No effort has been more successful than the “art in public places” programs in bringing an awareness of contemporary art to a nationwide audience. No effort has been more controversial than that of placing art works before a greater public and thus opening the door for discussion of the “public” purpose of art.

None of this is surprising, for qualitative judgments about art have always been illusive and the subject of debate. And that debate escalates when art is placed in the public eye.

Art in the museum is protected art, sanctioned by the authority of recognized professionals. The work behind these doors is viewed by a public that is receptive, open and inquisitive about art’s various forms.

But public art is different. It is unique in that it is defined by location and makes art immediately accessible. The personal sensibility of the artist is exposed to the public’s expectation of what art should be. And what art “should be” has changed dramatically in this country, because we as a population have changed.

Traditionally, public art commemorated great events and people. It illustrated common goals and values of the society. But today, we’re hard pressed to find that common ground. More often than not, we find diversity in our politics, our religion, and our personal goals. Over the years, it has become obvious that traditional art alone cannot reflect this pluralistic country.

Thus, it is important for a wide range of contemporary art that reflects the wide range of our society’s perspectives. The success of this interaction relies upon a dialogue between the artist and the public, which explores the process by which contemporary art can find public significance in today’s world.

As an artist who has made over 60 public works of art, this process is very exciting to me. Although the end product of a project is the individual’s work of art, these pieces are
hopefully more than isolated objects thrust into the public eye. Art enhances existing neighborhoods. Children in downtown Missoula playing along the river are excited to see Jeffrey
Funk’s play-sculpture, “Returning.” Visitors to Missoula’s City Council Chambers receive vivid impressions of the city from Walter Hook’s vibrant paintings and Mary Iverson’s “Ponder.”
With the combined efforts of the projects’ initiators and the artist, these artworks and all other public works can become expressions of a community’s spirit.

I have seen many successes and some failures in projects, whether they are community initiated or sponsored by percent for art programs, the National Endowment, Federal Art in Architecture, the General Services Administration, or Veterans Administration. Without question, the responses vary across the board. Excitement, skepticism, appreciation and resentment only point to one very positive thing for me: involvement. When a community and an artist join efforts, they bring together art/architecture, the natural world, technology, as well as the spirit and the hand to create an ever-changing history. In 1967, Congress initiated the Art In Public Places Program. Soon after, the State of Montana adopted its percent for art statute. Since that time, art pieces have become a part of our public spaces. Famous and not so famous artists have participated in both urban and rural projects that reflect the diversity of contemporary art. Some of these public works of art have failed, but most have been major accomplishments.

One work of art started out as a huge controversy, but eventually became a major success story. The Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., designed by Maya Lin, was
originally a radical notion for the National Mall: a wall cut into the earth, etched with the names of over 58,000 dead soldiers. It ignited a firestorm of opposition when it was announced, and at the dedication in 1982, Maya Lin’s name was not even mentioned. Today the wall evokes silence, contemplation, regret and healing. Its simplicity allows each of us, in our own way, breathing space for the soul.

In our community, we have been fortunate to have a city government so forward thinking as to be the first Montana community to form a local Public Art Committee in 1985. In these thirty-three years, this community has acquired an amazing collection of artwork – the majority of which were produced by artists within the state. In these thirty-three years, this community has generated conversations which have stirred the hearts and minds of young and old. In these thirty-three years, individuals have volunteered countless hours to ensure that this community remains at the forefront of public art activities throughout the state.

In 2002, Missoula also became the first city in Montana with its own Percent for Art Program. The Ordinance mandated 1% of public construction costs be directly allocated towards the installation of public art. As Missoula’s collection grew, so did the Percent for Art program. In 2016, the Ordinance increased the allocation to 1.5% to allow for maintenance of the collection.

In 2009, Missoula became the first community in the state to implement a program that transformed the almost invisible traffic signal boxes (TSB’s) into eye popping canvases at intersections throughout Missoula. The project has incredible, broad based participation from state and local government, the business community and Missoula neighborhoods.
It is a project that has spanned over ten years, with over fifty images and more to come. It is a project that, with the help of the Committee, has spread beyond Missoula and across the state.

Part of what makes Missoula unique is that it is quite diverse. Examples of artworks like “Perseverance and Passage,” “Go with the Flow,” “Proper Shoppers,” “Crossings,” “Heart of
Missoula,” “Returning,” and the traffic signal box project, all reflect the diversity of this city. While each of us may have a favorite, and conversely, a piece that is not, the intent of public art remains constant: to invigorate, to challenge, to enhance, and bring to the public new and exciting art forms. This is the mission of the City of Missoula Public Art Committee: to make public art more visible and accessible to its citizens.

Missoula has seen phenomenal growth, reflected in the diversity of art flourished throughout the City and the University of Montana. The outstanding quality of our museums, with their provocative exhibitions and educational outreach, offers an enlightening experience to the public. The ever-increasing number of private galleries, art spaces, art events, and art organizations feature local artists and others from around the country.

The City of Missoula Public Art Committee continues to work to enhance the city with a diverse infusion of public art. As eclectic as the citizens of Missoula are, so too is the art within. Through the Committee, Missoula has chosen to expand its vision by reaching across the artistic spectrum to bring thought provoking and meaningful works of art to the public. Members of the Committee want the visual arts to lead the way in the presentation of ideas. Along with the efforts of every arts “stakeholder,” the MPAC will continually strive to make it so.
— Dana Boussard

Dana Boussard:

Dana Boussard is a nationally renowned artist with artwork in the collections of numerous private, corporate and public buildings around the country. Her studio pieces have been hung in museum & gallery exhibitions throughout the U.S.A. and abroad. Boussard received the Montana Governor’s Award for the Arts and she is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Western States Arts Federation. A vocal supporter of the arts, Dana has lobbied in Washington D.C. for the NEA, was recently given the Distinguished Fine Arts Alumni Award from the University of Montana, and was chosen to represent her state in an exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. Dana Boussard’s work balances the personal and political, as evidenced by her subject matter, which broaches topics of women’s issues and the environment through a deeply intimate lens; and her method of working, which ranges from solitary studio time to large public artworks installed in capitals and federal buildings throughout the country. The artist’s most recent public work, a ten year stained glass project from conception to completion, was comprised of more than 15,000 cut glass pieces, with some panels rising over 40 feet through the skylight. It is installed in Holy Spirit Catholic Parish, Great Falls, MT. As much as public art has been her artistic passion, she remains committed to living life sparingly amid nature on her ranch north of Missoula.