by William Skink
I have felt like an artist without a community for a long time and it’s really starting to bother me.
I came to Missoula in 2000 to finish my English degree in creative writing. The people I met then were amazing, the workshops and professors were great, and Missoula itself captured me and didn’t let go. While most people I knew moved on, I stayed put.
For a time I was more connected to things. I did radio as DJ Chameleon for years on KBGA, made zines and facilitated a free poetry workshop. I participated in a few readings and had some poems included in an obscure Missoula publication edited by poet Mark Gibbons.
That period of my life seems like a long time ago.
Three kids and one midlife crisis later, I decided my inner artist needed some attention. Since I’ve been incubating/revising a story stuck at around 100 pages for the last 3 years, I thought applying to the UM’s stellar creative writing MFA program was a good idea. I got the rejection email last March.
More recently I’ve been looking to rent a space to show my mixed-media pieces (with an emphasis on Legos and other toy/junk found objects) while continuing to work on new poems and songs, videos, and still working on that website.
I thought I found a space that might work for what I was thinking called Wave & Circuit. I emailed the contact email and didn’t get response. Then I went to the website, read the FAQ, and submitted again. And again, no response.
I’m writing this butt-hurt, rejected-artist pity-party account of wanting to reconnect to some facet of Missoula’ s artistic community because I read this article in the Missoulian about MAMA–Missoula Area Music Association–and it sounds great:
A new group has formed to advocate for musicians in and around Missoula.
It’s a community effort “looking at all sides of the spectrum” to explore how “we can better serve the music scene,” according to Maria Zepeda, a musician and the organization’s president.
The Missoula Area Music Association, or MAMA, wants to create an open conversation among artists — whether new or veterans — and venues and businesses that host live music about what they both respectively need from each other, Zepeda said.
I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that a major impetus behind MAMA forming is the monopoly-esque dominance of Nick Checota’s Logjam Productions in determining who gets access to Missoula’s main music venues.
While I totally support the idea of local artists getting together to better articulate their needs in a log-jammed music market, I wonder how prepared these members of MAMA are to be responsive to things like a potential paying customer inquiring about renting a commercial space. Here’s more from the article:
Zepeda said that “at the end of the day, we just want to empower musicians of any level, age, demographic, style, genre. There’s not any form of music that we don’t want to be a part of,” she said.
They’ve also reached out to advisers who can “provide other perspectives that we don’t have,” Brown said. Those include Barbara Neilen, executive director of Destination Missoula; Joe Glassy, co-operator of Wave & Circuit; Tom Bensen, executive director of Arts Missoula; Naomi Siegel, founder of Lakebottom Sound; Randy Rathert of Elevate Church and Matt Olson of Attack & Release Studios.
Good luck getting a better slice of the pie, MAMA.