First Fridays: A Guide To Getting Your Own Show

Gallery Guide

If you are an emerging artist in Missoula who wants to start showing your work and hosting your own First Friday shows, this guide was made for you.

What is First Friday and who runs it?

First of all, let’s talk about the First Friday Art Walk. First Friday happens every first Friday of the month, where the community walks the streets and through the galleries and museums in search of the new Missoula shows and exhibitions. New and experienced artists alike are featured at various businesses, mostly focused in the downtown area, and everyone has a chance to mingle and chat. 5-8pm is the sweet spot.

First Friday, contrary to popular belief, is not headed by one person, organization, or business. It’s a loosey-goosey affair in the best way possible: every business can host its own First Friday (or non-First Friday!) show if it wants to. There are quite a few businesses who regularly invite artists to show in their space. Sometimes it can be for a whole month or more, and sometimes it’s just for First Friday. It really depends on the business or organization.

Arts Missoula itself is not the “owner” or “ruler” of First Friday; we just like to promote First Fridays as much as we can, and we wholeheartedly support it. For this reason, we have a Gallery Guide through MissoulaEvents.net that helps the community see exactly what’s going on for First Friday. But more on that later.

Getting a Show

If you are interested in having your work shown at a particular venue or business, all you gotta do is ask! Each business operates differently, but many business owners love hosting artists’ work so that they can also be a part of the First Friday festivities. It really is a win-win.

If you’d like a leg-up to get started, here are a few of the businesses that semi-regularly or occasionally host art shows. Keep in mind that Arts Missoula is not affiliated with any of these businesses, and that this list does not include the galleries, museums, or other traditionally “art-centered” organizations. This list is for the more casual, beginning artists who perhaps have not exhibited before and want to get their toes wet first, so to speak.

  • BASE Missoula // 725 West Alder St, Ste. 4 // 215-1080
  • Bathing Beauties Beads // 501 S Higgins // 543-0018
  • Berkshire Hathaway Montana Properties // 314 N Higgins // 721-4141
  • Bernice’s Bakery // 190 S 3rd St W // 728-1358
  • Betty’s Divine // 509 S Higgins // 721-4777
  • Bike Doctor // 1101 Toole Ave // 721-5357
  • The Break Espresso // 432 N Higgins // 728-7300
  • Butterfly Herbs // 232 N Higgins // 678-8780
  • Clyde Coffee // 610 S Higgins // 540-4481
  • Downtown Dance Collective // 121 W Main // 541-7240
  • The Dram Shop // 229 E Front St // 540-4303
  • Lake Missoula Tea Company // 136 E Broadway // 529-9477
  • La Stella Blu // 612 S Higgins // 317-1074
  • Le Petit Outre // 129 S 4th St W // 543-3311
  • Liquid Planet // 223 N Higgins // 541-4541
  • The Loft // 119 W Main // 830-3000
  • Market on Front // 201 E Front St // 541-0246
  • MASC Studio // 1200 Shakespeare St // 282-4005
  • Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT) // 500 N Higgins, Ste. 105 // 542-6228
  • Missoula Community Food Co-op // 1500 Burns St // 728-2369
  • The Public House // 130 E Broadway // 130 E Broadway
  • Red Bird // 111 N Higgins // 549-2906
  • Sushi Hana Downtown // 403 N Higgins // 549-7979
  • Zootown Brew // 121 W Broadway // 543-2549

As mentioned before, every business is different and therefore, has different expectations for the artists they show. We recommend having a portfolio of some kind available to show business owners, as well as perhaps a resume and a cover letter if you want to go all out – it can’t hurt!

If the business owner would like to have your work for a First Friday, hurrah! Make sure both you and the business owner understand the scope of your agreement. Some businesses may have a contract or agreement that you will need to sign, but if not, you can provide your own to ensure that your art is kept safe while it’s there. A business also might expect a cut of any sales you make, so be 100% clear in your agreement of how sales should be conducted.

Promotion

If you are just starting out, it is probably not necessary to do the whole kit and kaboodle with printed fliers and show cards. Of course, feel free to do whatever you think is necessary if this is important to you! But this can get expensive, and really, if you are just starting out, most of your budget should go towards your art – be it canvas, paint, film, etc. Word from the wise here, but a well-dispersed Facebook event does wonders in an age of digital and electronic media. Plus, it saves a tree! Make your event page about two weeks prior to the event, and spread the word through invite and word of mouth.

Don’t forget to submit an event through our Gallery Guide page for feature in the listing every First Friday. When submitting an event on either our page or MissoulaEvents.net, just make sure to use the featured tag #FIRSTFRIDAY, and you’re golden! Your event will show up in both places. Do it! It’s easy, free, and works like a charm.

You can also submit free event listings through other sites like the Missoula Independent.

Preparation

Don’t procrastinate! Get it done! Talk with your First Friday place about hanging, lighting, labels, etc. Try to think of everything, and always be prompt and respectful to the business. Be ready to arrive at least an hour early (depending on your work) if you can to install your pieces and prep. Oftentimes, you will be expected to provide food and refreshment, but if you are arting on a budget, don’t feel pressured to spend too much on fancy food or wine. What is important here is not the hors d’oeuvres, but your art and you.

Hosting Your Show

The type of hosting varies greatly from business to business, but generally, you can expect to host a First Friday from 5-8pm. Reserve the entirety of this time to be at your show to greet and talk with guests. There will be plenty of other First Fridays for you to mingle at other shows, but this one is special! Treat your show as professionally as possible. It is highly encouraged to be present so people can get to know you, your process, and your style. Putting a face to a name to a piece of art is crucial!

Afterwards

If your show is running through the month, then just make sure you and the business owner have made arrangements for your uninstall date. If your show is just open for First Friday, talk with the business owner beforehand to see how and when they would like you to uninstall. Try to make the uninstall as efficient and easy as possible. After the First Friday reception, stay around after to help clean up. Always be courteous of a business’s time and space!

We hope you found this guide helpful, and if you have any questions, email Brianna at brianna@artsmissoula.org. Even though Arts Missoula does not officially facilitate First Fridays, we are knowledgeable and always happy to help!

Next First Friday: April 7