MAM hosting “Montana Peepshow Stories” on First Friday

Missoula Current

The public is invited to join Montana artist Leslie Van Stavern Millar II for Missoula Art Museum’s First Friday reception of her current exhibit, Montana Peepshow Stories on Friday, Nov. 4 from 5-8 p.m.

Leslie will give a gallery talk at 7 p.m.

Millar presented the first Peepshow Stories through the Caravan Project, in which 13 Montana artists traveled to numerous communities all over the state during the summer of 1995. Now a part of the state’s art history mythos, this innovative traveling art experience had the effect of laying important aesthetic foundations for several of the artists who were involved, including Millar. Her Peepshow Stories, in the form of freestanding wooden boxes, each house a single painting viewed through a small hole, recalling the peepshows of yesteryear.

Each of Millar’s meticulous gouache paintings depict the imagined adventures of England’s Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) time traveling to historic moments in Montana. Millar chose Queen Elizabeth I as a vehicle to represent the spirit of what has been called the Age of Exploration—the European conquest by sea for scientific, commercial, religious, and military purposes that lead to the settling of the North American continent. By default, American Westward Expansion finds its roots in this doctrine, and Millar provides the critical lens in which to view these geopolitical forces.

For the MAM exhibition, Millar has added five paintings to the original five in the series. The new work depict events in the Missoula area, including the Fort Missoula’s 1897 25th Infantry, a regiment of black soldiers who traveled to St. Louis, Missouri by bicycle; the annual Salish Pow Wow in Arlee; and President Roosevelt presenting his 1911 speech on Higgins Avenue. Millar continues to develop pieces as part of this series.

Millar is a singular artist of great focus. Many are familiar with her tongue-in-cheek art performance persona, Science Woman, who has appeared widely in parades across the state and lectured on topics such as how art improves the quality of life or what makes living in Montana a unique experience. Millar herself, and her fine art, are at the heart of what makes this cultural landscape so unique and so quirky.

Contact: For more information, please contact the Missoula Art Museum at 406.728.0447, visit the MAM website or contact Brandon Reintjes, Senior Curator,, 406.728.0447 x230.