February 8, 2014

Monte was born on July 23, 1939 to an exceptional set of parents. Certainly, it did not take long to discover this boy possessed a talent for art.

Monte 1947. 49

From an early age, the ability exhibited toward the creation of art must have been obviously noticed.

Pastel, Still Life, Fruit basked, early work, Monterey wall, 368

Pastel, Stream, very early, Monterey wall, 366Some pieces given to a loving Mother and proudly displayed by that Mother, would later be seen with harsh criticism, even when known these pieces were created at a very young age by the artist.

Oddly, these early pieces exhibited a level of quality most people would be satisfied with, but not Monte.  As mentioned earlier, Monte often would offer to trade his Mother pieces created much later if she would only return his early work.  Each time she refused, it being clear these pieces he so badly wanted returned meant a great deal to her.

Watercolor, early work, men in skiff, Monterey wall, 369

One can only imagine what it must have been like for people who mentored Monte to realize the talent he possessed and the promise he held within his fingers.  Through his life, he would talk about people he had encountered that held his interest when it came to creativity and art.  One was a man Monte’s age named Frank.  For a time, he and Monte shared an apartment together and had hopes to pool their talents together to earn a living.

Frank was an interesting person, also with artistic talent, who Monte was very fond of, but in later years developed a host of mental issues, which Monte believed was due to Frank’s time in Vietnam.

Monte, vest teaching photo 206When a young man, Monte met and married Sharyl Strode.  As mentioned earlier, if not for Sharyl, her support and gracious acceptance of Monte, his arrogance and penchant for a selfish. bohemian lifestyle, his artistic pursuits would have been much more difficult.

Monte, Sharyl, portrait picture 203Monte grew up in a family culture of outdoors men.  Within his family, a number of them worked at a private hunting and fishing club deep in the Illinois river bottoms. Zelma Ellis, Monte’s mother, would cook meals for this private club, while Monte, his brothers and other friends, “pushed” hunters during duck hunting season.

Of those that hunted at this private club, some possessed qualities of a less refined nature, most likely due to their self-perceived higher station in life.  During private moments with his family, one recollection Monte would recall was how one disgusting hunter once painfully pinched one of his Mothers’ breasts. This is only mentioned because Monte’s retelling of this incident clearly was a reflection of how it influenced his emerging thoughts on wealth and the power people held.

In these early ears, rather than possessing a fondness for hunting, it would probably be more accurate to describe Monte as having a fondness for the culture of the outdoors and what came along with this aspect of masculinity.  It was not necessarily the hunting he enjoyed, but of the other combined parts of the out of doors culture.

During this time, the owners saw something they must have liked in Monte and hired him as the site manager of the private hunting and fishing club.  He held this position from 1965 until 1975.

Years later, after Monte’s death, one of Monte’s long time friends was quizzed over how owners of a private hunting and fishing lodge could have ever selected Monte as the site manager knowing of his fondness for nature that was living. The reply was along the lines of one of the wealthy brothers and Monte thought a lot alike when it came to nature and its wildlife.

Big Lake, Monte, Eric, Kathy, Deer, 659

Monte’s own artistic growth mostly came from his own personal study and development. An examination of his previously posted pieces will illustrate a changing style through his pieces.  Some pieces most likely feature aspects of commonly observed common styles of the given time period, but in comments by Monte, his expressed his goal was to create art as saw and perceived things.

People often seemed to express surprise when it was learned Monte’s artistic skills included everything from pencils, inks, oil panting, water colors, acrylics, pastels and sculptures.

Three Pintails 1 Ed

Sculpture, Mallards 031

Sculptures, Fawn, Clay, Lifesize, Close up, Left side face, Cropped, 023


An image of the very last piece Monte was working on up until his death is below.  Monte had quite a fondness for the wolf.  He kept this small sculpture in a kitchen drawer and while sitting in his kitchen in the peace of the night while listening to music and partaking in his indulgence of spirits, he would bring it out and work on it.  On these nights, his shaking hands calmed by drinking, he could do the required, fine detail work needed.  Still, he would be troubled because he often expressed he could never capture the nature of a wolf,  but he tried………

Sculpture, Wolf's Head, Monte's Last Piece 033