I am thrilled to announce a whole new axis for Reinventingrid: Artist Studio Visits.
I hope you will enjoy discovering the visual art of contemporary artists I have had my eyes on for some time. Who knows, you may decide to add their works to your own collection after reading a bit more about their inspiration, style and personality.
Starting this new axis for the blog with Monty Montgomery’s striking fractal lines and colorful grids made perfect sense. So let me take you into his world, to see what he sees.
Handwritten notes of personal encouragement, a zen quote and Salvador Dalí stuck over past exhibition images of Monty Montgomery works. Washed-out childhood photographs with Mom, Dad and best buddy Jensen at the beach, all neatly pinned next to graduated bright color swatches.
It’s all there: the very personal and inspirational nurturing his art.
Monty’s studio walls have become a paper tapestry woven straight from the heart. A small shrine filled with mementos echoing back and forth between Monty Montgomery’s native Virginia and his San Diego North Park studio.
Miles away from what I expected from looking at Monty’s graphic and hard-edged works of art…
A Studio Like No Others
While the neatly color coded Montana cans of spray paint speak of the present success of Monty as an artist, his organized studio takes on a devotional quality rooted in his past.
Through his Mom’s owl statuettes, his maternal Grandad ‘s old fire fighters toys and countless sticker stars run the energy of the bold life lines so characteristic of the colorful work Monty has come to be known for.
Apparently, Monty’s mother could sense he would be an artist from a very early age. She’d wanted to be one herself. Mission accomplished through her talented son? Resolutely, yes!
What may have started as a mother projecting on her son has gone full circle. Monty is the gift that keeps onspray painting an ode to his entire family.
Everybody’s here in his Studio, shining through like the small trademark stars all over his early Pop series works. Omnipresent back then, these were inspired by the star-gazing nights Monty’s paternal GrandDad (PawPaw) used to reward the Montgomery boys for behaving at bath time.
With years, stars slowly grew longer rays, intertwined between foreground, background and projecting all the perspectives that life and experience brought. If PawPaw was an inspiration from the beginning, he is still very much there today: he is the signature sticker star on the back of each Monty piece.
Playing with the Texture of Life
Monty’s graphic lines have always been high contrast but lately there’s added visual density.
He’s been subtly playing off spray paint in Shock Black against Coke, a dark purplish grey with a hint of navy blue.
Textural effects are also coming through. In one series, he left part of the birch wood panel apparent. In another, a few triangles textured with Liquitex Heavy Body have appeared.
Is turning 42 bringing a wrinkle of time in his works?
Or is it informed by his street mural commissions like the North Park mural or the Farmville, VA triptych? These projects often come with surface irregularities and it looks like Monty has decided to embrace and accept those as integral part of his body of works…
Either way you look at it, Nature and Time make it through his abstracted lines.
From the city streets he travels throughout the US to his walks in the local park, forms resolve into mostly triangular shapes whose colors depend on Monty’s moods and feelings that day.
Even the outside temperature plays a role. Works executed in sunny California have crisper contrasts, more greens and fluorescent accents.
In comparison, viewing the latest works he brought back from his native freezing cold Virginia, I found a much warmer and autumnal palette. As if Monty needed to keep warm physically and artistically.
But overall, Monty’s works are bright and happy, sometimes even glow-in-the-dark.
His latest color pairings being closer in value only resonate with a conversation we had about how he tends to over-express when looking for the right words and how he wants to work on this. Well, “look at your works”, I told him, “you’re fully concise there”. And I pointed to Monty’s clear lines and directional shots latticed through a Nature perceived as colorful geometry, symmetry and abstraction.
But how do I square (or triangle) this with an artist so emotionally plugged into his family, even welcoming squirrels and passers by his North Park Studio?
It seems such a contradiction and yet it’s not really. It’s all about an incredible energy to keep on searching and keep on daring. Be it with his own colors or those of others.
Building a Legacy
Indeed, Monty has proven many times over that stepping out of his comfort zone does not even start to describe his risk-taking approach.
Last year, it was all about dual-painting.
First as Kreashun, a creative partnership between Monty and J Feather. Both artists worked simultaneously to cover a 23’ x 6’ canvas piece “live” at Kaboo Del Mar. Keeping an eye on each other’s next move and brushwork, painting became a dance…
With Kaleidoskull – another collaboration, this time with artist Tony Philippou – Monty pretty much went blind.
He sent 10 pieces for Tony to finish as he wished. Fully surrendering to such creative process must have been terrifying but in typical Monty fashion, he chose to see it as energizing, first and foremost.
Scared that these 10 pieces could turn out like estranged children? Well, they did not: this show at Redefine Gallery in Orlando, FL sold out back in 2017.
Kaleidoskull Part II will be coming to San Diego in 2019 and the collaboration is taking roots and growing branches, with a newly launched website: www.kaleidoskullart.com
At Art Basel 2017, Monty painted “live” again. This time, it was to the tune of one of his top collectors, “G” Love and Special Sauce, playing at Blackbird Ordinary in downtown Miami.
Quite a change for an artist who typically works in silence or to the gentle tune of wind-blown chimes.
What such artistic collaborations are increasingly making clear is how Monty gives back even more of this energy he’s got in spades. In a way, surrendering to his own nature, he grows his very own family tree through his art.
With popping bright fluorescent colors and fractal lines jazzing in and out, Monty’s murals wake up the rock star in you.
Yet his growing presence all over the US speaks of his purpose-full heart and attention to the benefits that art brings to children.
Contributing to young souls’ personal growth, he painted a monumental mural in the Music Room of New Summit Academy in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Back in Farmville, VA at his Alma Mater Longwood University, hundreds of kids gave Monty a helping hand painting a mural during the Virginia Children’s Book Festival which was then donated to a worthy cause to lift moods with art.
He’s working on many more projects involving giving back to kids through Art, and his Mom is helping. With Monty, it’s always been a Work of Heart.
© 2018 Ingrid Westlake
All pictures by Ingrid Westlake, unless otherwise stated.