Stained Glass Project Opens A Window On Art

Published 6:16 pm Thursday, August 14, 2014

When most of us look at a brick wall we don’t see a stained glass window. For Monty Montgomery, such vision is all in a day’s work. An artist who specializes in wall and mural art, Montgomery is pleased to share his world of color and design with Farmville in his recently completed work next to the Farmville Farmers Market on North Street. “The Warehouse Triptych Mural Project” has added a blaze of color to Downtown Farmville.

The idea for the Triptych Mural started with the Farmville Downtown Partnership.

Sally Thompson and Pam Butler, of Farmville Downtown, attended the opening of a mural Montgomery had been commissioned to create in Bedford Hall on the Longwood University campus last February.

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“We got really excited about it,” Butler commented.

“Sally Thompson and Pam Butler had the beginning vision for the Triptych Mural Project,” Montgomery stated. “Sally told me — ‘We need to do this in Farmville!’ Farmville Presbyterian Church owns the warehouse, so Tom Robinson, pastor of the church, got in touch with Jimmy Johnson of Farmville Downtown and they all started working together to make it happen.”

Once the project was approved, Montgomery, who considers Farmville his second home, was pleased to accept. Originally from Louisa, Montgomery attended Longwood and graduated in 1998 with a degree in graphic design.

Following graduation he began a circuitous route that eventually led to San Diego, California. After leaving Longwood, Montgomery began his career in Virginia Beach designing t-shirts for the 17th Street Surf Shop. While still at Longwood, he had launched his own clothing line, which he continued to promote.

“I was selling shirts out of the trunk of my car,” he recalled. “Positive Vibrations in Farmville was the first store to sell my shirts — Cathy Wall was part of my beginning here.”

Montgomery’s next move was to Charlottesville.

“I got a job doing design work for the Dave Matthews Band,” he continued. “I worked in the multi-media department designing tickets, stickers, Frisbees, and shirts.

Montgomery then spent about a year promoting his clothing line all over the state. In 2002 he moved back to Charlottesville and opened a gallery on the downtown mall.

“That’s when I really started focusing on painting,” he said. “That’s when I decided I was a painter — that’s when I made the switch.”

From earliest childhood, color has been a major focus in Montgomery’s life.

“My mother was a kindergarten teacher for 30 years,” he related. “She would use all these bright colors and black lines. I vividly remember as a kid just loving color — it made me happy even at a very young age.”

His sense of design and precision with straight lines, the artist believes, comes from his father.

“My dad is very much a perfectionist,” he said with a smile. “I couldn’t cut the grass until I could cut it in straight lines. My parents always were very supportive. They encouraged me to do coloring and poster contests as a child. From an early age, I was addicted — I loved it!”

That love for art, Montgomery added, was further nurtured at Longwood University.

“Homer Springer was my illustration teacher at Longwood,” he recalled. “He was part of ‘kicking me in gear.’ I started really focusing on drawing and using different materials in his class.”

Another major influence in the Longwood Art Department was Randy Edmonson.

“He was my painting teacher,” Montgomery added. “I didn’t know I really liked painting until that class. Mr. Edmonson was the beginning of my painting career.”

That career move to painting led Montgomery to make another major move — he packed up his car seven years ago and moved to San Diego.

“It had been a childhood dream to live on the West Coast,” he noted. “I still did some graphic design work there, but, professionally, decided I was a painter. That’s how I relate, that’s how I feel.”

Once in San Diego, the artist launched

“I work with a buddy — we do murals all over the country,” he related. “We both have solo careers also.”

In February of this year, Montgomery was commissioned to do a mural in Longwood’s newly renovated Bedford Hall, home of the Longwood Art Department.

“The Bedford Mural was the most honest thing I’ve ever done,” Montgomery related. “Everything started at Longwood, and it all came back to me in a way I wasn’t prepared for.”

The Bedford Mural was also Montgomery’s link with Farmville Downtown. This Partnership was organized in 2012 “to bring together residents, merchants, and students of Farmville to preserve downtown’s role as the center of our historic community.”

After his initial contact with Butler and Thompson of Farmville Downtown, Montgomery sent proofs of his proposed Mural Project. Once the project was approved several months later, he made plans to return to Farmville this summer.

“This is basically a massive triptych stained glass window,” Montgomery commented on his larger-than-life art. “I’ve reverted back to my graphic design days, but I’m doing it as a painter now. I’ve come full circle with this new style of my work.”

Once on site, Montgomery admitted, the mural began to take on a life of its own.

“Once I got here and felt the wall and saw the brick, some of my colors changed,” he related.

As work on the mural began, Montgomery was overwhelmed by local cooperation and concern.

“I’ve never experienced a town working with me like I have here,” he stated. “Gerry Spates and his team were amazing. They were super-supportive. Then the local people started popping by to see if I was okay — some brought me food and treats.”

At the completion of the mural, Montgomery was again amazed by the local response and support.

“Whatever I do is within my style,” he said. “It’s going to be realism.”

“I wanted to bring to Farmville what you see here,” Montgomery concluded, with a look that reflected the bright colors popping off the wall behind him. “A few years ago I was quoted as saying — my job is to make you feel. In the last year or two, I’ve realized that is my job — I’m going to do my best to make that happen.”