Allez! Bringing light, art and people together

Missoula's new outdoor mural gallery opens with James Todd jazz prints

Art Beat

The team behind the newly resurrected 120 N. Higgins Ave. in Missoula has launched Allez! – a new art program down the alleyway of this historical location.

Karen Sippy and Lillian Nelson hang a portrait of artist Beth Lo at Allez!
Karen Sippy and Lillian Nelson hang a portrait of artist Beth Lo at Allez!Photo © Lisa Simon

Pronounced “Allay,” the new adventure creates an outdoor art gallery of mural artworks, which will be rotated on a regular basis. The first installation of this ambitious project, which opened June 5, features large-scale prints of jazz musicians by Missoula artist James G. Todd.

The building already houses three other art venues, including Missoula favorite Radius Gallery, along with Relic Gallery and Art Vault. Allez! is a continuation of this “cathedral to art” envisioned by owners Brian and Karen Sippy.

“When we first saw the drawings of our building,” says Karen Sippy, “we both immediately realized the opportunity before us … we were now positioned to activate Missoula’s first paved alley and to bring light, art and people together.”

The premiere of Allez! had originally been placed at a later date, but with the current climate of uncertainty, plus the fact that most art organizations have been forced to close, the team felt it beneficial to push forward and offer a semblance of beauty to the Missoula community.

“One of the ultimate goals of Allez! is to bring pride and mental well being to Missoula through art,” says program director Lillian Nelson. “So what better time than now to begin?”

While future exhibits are meant to feature original, handcrafted, full-scale murals, and even sculptural pieces, the first installation required something much simpler but still attractive.

“We settled on enlarged photo reproductions from James G. Todd’s jazz series, one, because he is a true Missoula icon, but also because of the pure humanity that shines through his portraits, both the light and the dark,” says Nelson.

The final installation includes nine Todd prints that will span 58 feet of the alley wall, and will remain on display through August.

The next installation, slated to open in September, will feature original work that merges Missoula’s history with the current-day Garden City and will be up through winter.

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