The plan was simple: to feature of our 2011 Art in Odd Places key note speaker, Linda Montano. I have heard of her, but wasn’t really familiar with her work. Ourteam wants to make this extra special, so I spent a lot of time thinking how to approach the feature.Typically, I send my interviewees a set of general questions that paints a goodpicture of who they are as artists. Since I, Cesar, handle the social media element of Artin Odd Places, I started brainstorming ideas incorporating technology: a skypeinterview, a podcast, responses via youtube etc. Anything that will allow me to put her in a good light.
So I began my research about Linda: I learned that for 7 years, she wore monochromaticoutfits. Her website says “living art”. Linda Montano dedicated her life to art (or should I say “her art to life”?). To her, there no such thing as a “fine line” between artand life. Life and art are two infused elements, with both influencing one other. As I read and read about her philosophy on living the life ofsimplicity, it occurred to me that my “social media plans” of interviewing might be doomed to failure. The ideas that I came up with does not seem to paint a good picture of our such a great artist.
|Linda Montano , photo credit www.lindamontano.com|
Then it hit me: why not follow Linda’s lead and keepeverything simple? Forget the mp3 files, the webcams and other auditing programs. Looking back, just thinking about howto approach the blog entry gave me a little headache. Finally, I decided that I am going back to basics: I will simplytalk to her. You get to know people not by sending emails or wait for theirvideo responses. Ok granted she lives far away, I might need to use a littlepiece of technology: a phone
So I picked up the phone and came clean. I told Linda the interview is more of a conversation, rather than an interview. There were a few questions to get us started, then the rest was free flowing. She agreed with the plan, but then asked me to do something that caught meoff guard: To close my eyes. Close my what? Mind you, I was in the middle of 82nd Street and 2nd Avenue when Linda requested for my eyes to be closed. I was a littleapprehensive on doing so, not sure if the closed eye phone conversation would be a good look in the upper east side ; I did it anyway.
Once we got started, I felt a certain sense of ease. There was something about her and my eyes closed that got me feeling relaxed. Focusingmy efforts on just hearing her responses made the conversation such atreat. It was as if I was talking tosomebody whom I have known forever. We began the conversation with hertransition of using “art” as a way of life. She talked about how her grandmother and religion played a huge role onmaking her who she is. She let me know about her first art work around the ageof 14 and 15, which was a drawing . How her tactile nature led to sculpting andthen to an MFA. We even got personal: how she was not much of a talker growing up, how art became her “therapy” in going throughlife. The responses were very honest andso unforced, that even I became more at ease.
The conversation went on, then it turned again to to somethingunexpected: She asked me a question. Aquestion? I am so used to be the giving all the question. It feels a littleweird divulging personal information to somebody whom I barely know. But I didit anyway since I said it was a conversation. She asked me to tell her a happy story, towhich I obliged. She then inquired about my parents and how I ended up in New York.
The two of us had great banter. It was a simple conversation. In some way, I felt I now understandhow art could become a form of therapy and, if I may argue, a way of life. We spoke for30 minutes, but it felt like we were talking for hours. There was just a steadyflow of words and degree of comfort we share. And I was clamoring for more.
And I realized where the power of Linda lies: the ability totouch people’s lives through her work. Her passion for what she does radiates ,leaving everyone captivated by her mystery. After knowing her, you just stopasking life’s big questions and simply enjoy thepresent moment. “Everyday is a gift” she said. We worry too much about things and sometimes we need a break. Linda embodies this reminder to take the time and truly look within ourselves. We hung up the phone and
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to Linda Montano.Those who will be attending her keynote address during the festival opening arein for a treat. Art in Odd Places is truly fortunate to have her this year. We hope to see everyone on October 1st at Parson’s School of Design.
Thank you Linda and I look forward meeting you in person