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Taking his art on the road

American artist Monty Montgomery joins Whistler and Sea to Sky artists in 'Lines and Shapes' at the Gallery at The Maury Young Arts Centre

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Artist Monty Montgomery is sitting in Whistler Olympic Plaza, enjoying the sun and thinking about getting lunch.

The painter has just arrived after driving north for several days from his home in San Diego. It's his first-ever time at the resort, but he comes for a good reason — he is part of the latest show at The Gallery in the Maury Young Arts Centre, called Lines and Shapes.

"I just parked and got here and literally sat down five minutes ago," Montgomery says.

He was invited to Whistler by local artist and the show's curator, Arne Gutmann, who knew Montgomery's style would fit in perfectly with Gutmann's work and that of the other participating artists Anne Popma, Andrea Mueller, Davin Peterson, Dave Petko, Doerthe Barker, Hayley Wirsching, Penny Eder, The Incredible Amoeba, Stan Matwychuk, Scott Stephenes and Randal Smith.

"I had told Arne that someday I would make it here. I grew up on in the East Coast, in a cabin my parents built in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, it was a childhood dream to live on the West Coast so in 2008 I shut the galleries I worked at down, had a big show, packed my car and drove to San Diego," Montgomery says.

"Where I grew up is a lot like Whistler. The mountains aren't as tall, but there's lots of green and trees. Getting to Canada has been an artistic dream."

The aim when he left Virginia for San Diego was to see if he could make it as an artist in a city where he didn't know a soul — it worked out well, and these days he ping pongs between the two coasts. Being willing to challenge himself this way also shows in his visit to Whistler.

The five new paintings Montgomery brought will him are typical of his colourful, hard-lined pieces and come from his Fractal Series of paintings, started in 2016.

"There aren't tons of circles (something he is known for), but they are line based. Arne said it was cool because the other artists would use shapes I don't have," he says.

"If you look at my portfolio, my work is constantly changing and emerging.

"The Fractal Series is work based on line, energy, geometry, symmetry, colour relationships. Each piece has a work-of-art statement. I'm really excited for them to be in the show."

Lines and Shapes runs from July 15 to Aug. 21, and opens with a reception on July 17 at 8 p.m.

Montgomery says nature is becoming more prominent in his work, and this is making him revert back to his childhood experiences.

"Some of the deep greens and greys in the Fractal Series, a lot of energy, is based on natural relationships with colour," he says.

"I'm sitting in this park, looking at these amazing mountains and there are strips of light green that are hidden, curving at angles from ski slopes that are based on dark green trees. And there are lights and greys from the rock. A lot of those colour combinations and relationships are feelings that come from nature."

Gutmann says the show basically came about thanks to Montgomery and Facebook.

"He became a friend of mine thanks to mutual friends and I liked his work, it's vibrant and unusual and eclectic. He found out I lived in Whistler and he was very desirous of coming up here," Gutmann says.

"I hadn't done a show in ages and I thought why not curate one around his style. Very simple and very colourful, I like the colour aspect of his work.

"I thought it would bring something out in the other artists that they're not used to. I have Anne Popma and Penny Eder in it, and they aren't usually abstract in style. It pushes everyone a bit.

"We have about 10 fantastic local artists and I am super stoked about the opening."

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