MISSOULA – Rarely seen works of art by three of Montana’s most celebrated artists will adorn the galleries of the Montana Museum of Art & Culture at the University of Montana from Thursday, March 3, to Saturday, April 23. The star-studded showcase will include several special events, tours and lectures.

George Gogas, “Judith Basin Encounter: When Charlie and Pablo Pondered ACGT,” 2012, acrylic on canvas. Collection of Drs. John Miller and Nerissa Koehn. (Photo: MMAC)

Missoula artist and teacher George Gogas will be featured in the exhibition “George Gogas: Odyssey,” in the Meloy Gallery of the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center at UM. Internationally renowned ceramicist Rudy Autio, former UM professor and chairman of art, will be paired with notable artist and teacher Henry “Hank” Meloy in the exhibition, “Presence: Rudy Autio and Henry Meloy,” in the PAR/TV Center’s Paxson Gallery. An opening reception for both exhibitions will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, in the PAR/TV Center lobby.


Rudy Autio, “Surprise,” 2004, glazed stoneware. Gift of Lisa Autio. (Photo: MMAC)

    In addition, special docent tours of the exhibitions are scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, and Thursday, April 7. The tours are free and open to the public.

From small prints to large canvases, the Gogas exhibition includes 16 pieces, surveying over 40 years of creative work. Several generous loans from private collections, including the artist’s personal collection, complement works within the MMAC Permanent Collection to trace the Gogas’ ahistorical style.
In “Judith Basin Encounter,” a series at the show’s center, Gogas imagines an exciting friendship between two men who actually never met: Charles M. Russell and Pablo Picasso. Gogas translates canvases by Russell into cubist compositions with specific quotations from Picasso’s art. His work transcends normal limitations of time and historical memory, such as “When Charlie and Pablo Overdrew at the ATM.”
The UM College of Visual and Performing Arts will celebrate Gogas as its honoree during its “Odyssey of the Stars” scholarship-raising event at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5, in UM’s Dennison Theatre. The MMAC will open its galleries following the event during a reception in the PAR/TV Center lobby. For more information about this year’s “Odyssey of the Stars” event, call 406-243-4970 or click HERE. .
Gogas will deliver a public lecture from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in the Meloy Gallery. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Henry Meloy, Untitled (Portrait of Katharine Cornell), ca. 1943-44, graphite on paper. On permanent loan from the Henry Meloy Educational Trust. (Photo: MMAC)

“Presence: Rudy Autio and Henry Meloy” considers distinct chapters in the careers of two major Montana artists whose explorations of form and material delved into the very nature of presence and absence in the work of art.

In the mid-1990s, Autio made an unusual foray into the technique of woodcut printmaking. Unlike the medium he is best known for – thrown, sculpted and glazed stoneware – printing from wooden blocks entails carving away material, leaving a printed design in the unworked wood. Rarely seen woodcut prints come together with paintings and ceramics in this exhibition, shedding light on this fascinating-yet-often-overlooked part of Autio’s career.
Autio once disputed the claim that imagery he incised into his glazed pots was secondary to abstract ceramic form, saying, “I think it’s a union of painting and sculpture that’s more important.”
In contrast to Autio’s woodcuts, for Meloy, the life of a work of art is brought about through action that is decidedly additive. In “Notebooks,” he once wrote, “The ‘stamp’ of art is balancing the books – bringing up to date, into the present – of the accumulated experience. A work of art, which is the crystallization of thought, once it has been given form and shape in the present, will always stay ‘alive.’”
The exhibition will present works from the MMAC Permanent Collection, as well as a generous loan from the Rudy and Lela Autio Estate, comprising a number of woodcut prints, large-scale paintings and ceramic plates. Drawings by Meloy were selected from the Henry Meloy Educational Trust permanent loan to MMAC.
MMAC’s academic year gallery hours are noon-3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, and noon-6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. The museum is open to the public with a suggested $5 donation. For more information call 406-243-2019 or click HERE.