9 BOOKS by LINDA MARY MONTANO IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
ART IN EVERYDAY LIFE
ART IN EVERYDAY LIFE is a chronicle of my early work and a (printed)
gallery tour of 35 performances/sculptures from 1965-1980. I begin my first book by setting the tone and giving you the initial image which explains the reason that I became an artist because the junk sculpture, CRUCIFIX, symbolically explains why “suffering’ became my aesthetic signature; explains why suffering became my art-material; explains why suffering became my habitual response to life; explains why suffering became my art-drug of choice . That is, I was introduced very early to “suffering” as a Catholic child/child in general, and spent the next 7 decades of my life, aesthetically de-constructing the word and my relationship to the complexities of sufferingology. The book chronicles my rise from showing chickens in a gallery for my MFA show, to becoming a Dead Chicken/Live Angel in later endurances where I sat/ laid down/danced as Chicken Woman, imitating the look of pure-white statue-saints in the church of St Mary of the Snow. ART/LIFE was born early in my career because , yes, I lived in California for 10 years; California, the seedbed of Eastern cross-over boundary breaking; the place where nothing was everything; the place where light was art; the place where women were humans; the place where competition was anathema; the place where the joy of creating radical public actions was applauded. And I created and created and created and blindfolded myself; handcuffed myself to another artist; got a job as a Salvation Army Worker, as art, when I needed money; performatively healed others as a faux nurse; and mourned the death of my ex-husband Mitchell Payne. Because performance is my language, I became efficient at finding alternative ways of speaking my heart and mind by using body/costumes/ collaborations to weave a thin veil between the left and right brains.
I wanted to be seen and heard and understood and appreciated and so I wove all kinds of devices into this book: Interviews with Pauline Oliveros/Mildred Montano/Henry Montano/Lester Ingber/Moira Roth. Why interviews? Because social/easy TALKING was always such a burden for me and a vehicle of knowingness that I never trusted or knew I could perform, so I asked questions and this covered my discomfort. How silly, but it proved to be a way to hide my vulnerability because maybe I would not be in control if I talked with someone, or maybe I would cry or get angry if I talked with a real, live person?
Then I interviewed myself and for a year I sat in front of a video camera at The Center For Music Experiment in San Diego and talked not to, but at the camera, as seven different people, all fabulous and professional and radically authentic, asking them to teach me to be me. The conversations became the film, LEARNING TO TALK and the words and photos of these beauties are in the book which ends with the text from MITCHELL’S DEATH, the story of my ex-husband’s murder and my minute to minute response.
ART IN EVERYDAY LIFE helped loosen my tongue and reveal my broken heart. I thank this first book/baby for the teachings.
CREDITS: Typesetting: Karen Hughes; Editing: Minnette Lehmann; Layout: Mark McGowan; Proofreading: Sharon Chickanzeff & Matthew Rothenberg; Cover Photo: Marion Stay; Back Cover: Faulke Regan; Published by: Astro Artz, LA in association with Station Hill Press, Barrytown NY. Produced at Open Studio, Rhinebeck NY.
BEFORE AND AFTER ART/LIFE COUNSELING
This 1983 book of drawings is my favorite publication. At that time I was a Zen Meditation student and lived in a monastery for two years. It was a safe place. I would rise at 4am, walk from the waterless, unheated A-Frame in the woods to the monastery ‘s meditation hall where I would meditate with the other students, then eat, then work, then meditate. On and on and on. This book reflects the intensity of that time and my mind which was so clean and pure and focused. My mind was examined and happy. It was my best mind and it inspired me to draw 7 before art/life counseling “problems ” with my right, dominant hand and then draw 7 after art/life counseling “solutions” with my left hand. Why did I reference art/life counseling and not meditation as a solution to problems? In retrospect and years later, I realize that I adjusted the wording so that I, a woman, could be the guru because at that time I was living in a spiritual community, directed by a man. By using Counseling in my title, I am suggesting that I am the authority, I am the person who creates positive change, who solves problems, who is the GURU! The 8 conditions that counseling with me, not a man, can change are: fear of death; suffering; ignorance; anger; arrogance; sexual repression; selfishness and attachment. Not bad! I need her now.
CREDITS: WOMEN’S STUDIO WORKSHOP, ROSENDALE NY. 1983.
THE ART/LIFE INSTITUTE HANDBOOK
This 39 page handbook, printed at THE WOMEN’S STUDIO WORKSHOP, 1988, is a collection of simple performance ideas based on my own work and observations. The purpose of the book is to make performance easy, accessible, not threatening, do-able and healing. Some of the suggested ideas are: Dreaming; Talking; Detachment; Interview; Fairy Tales; Awareness; Ecstasy; Spiritual Roots and Your Animal Totem. There are twenty more pithy and totally helpful prompts which suggest ways to make life bearable, creative, awake and radically present. Honestly, I would like to study with me! Maybe I need to re-do all 39 performances in this book.
CREDITS: WOMEN’S STUDIO WORKSHOP, ROSENDALE NY, 1988.
My mother’s dying process was a horror. It needed to be shared aesthetically because only art could contain and reclaim and release the pain that nighmared my life after I observed the 16 days of torture she endured in the hospital. So to mourn her I did two things: I fixed my building, The Art/Life Institute in Kingston NY, as a memorial to her, telling her departed spirit, “Mom, I don’t know how to cry, but I can sweat. So I sweat and make this building as a way to mourn you.” And the second thing I did was to write this book because Mom had said, ” I have to write the book, the 5 Johns of John St, because it is incredible that 5 men named John lived next to us.” Mom was an artist, a creative intuitive, and obviously a conceptual thinker given her noticing the numbers and synchronicity of the 5 Johns! This book is short, 21 pages of hospital notes written by an aide and myself and then the words 5 JOHNS. Those 5 pages are my Mom’s book. Please let the other 21 pages be of assistance, be a healing, be a way to mourn all those who die in medically compromised agony. May this never happen again to ANYONE!
CREDITS: ANANDA ASHRAM, MONROE NY.
PERFORMANCE ARTISTS TALKING IN THE 80’S
There are five hundred and thirty seven pages in this book of one hundred interviews and it could have been one thousand pages because I interviewed over 200 performance artists. Obviously this would have been way too big and the publisher suggested that it needed to be edited. That’s why there are only one hundred artists included here, not two hundred. But for anyone who would like to make public the unpublished interviews, I offer a challenge; “Go to my archive at Fales Library, NYU; ask to see the unpublished one hundred interviews about food/sex/money/fame/ritual and death; then get permission to print the interviews from each of the one hundred artists; design a cover for the new book; find a publisher and invite me to the book party!”
This book was conceived in 1979, when Diane Rothenberg invited me to speak to her Anthropology of Food class. I responded by interviewing twenty performance art colleagues about food and art, showing slides of their food performances. That got this project rolling and rolling and after getting my fill of food-talk, I realized that I wanted to ask other artist friends about sex and art and money and art and fame and art and ritual and art and death and art. I couldn’t stop! Remember it was the 80’s when we were still looking at each other, we were still talking face to face, we still had time, we were un-mediaed, un-bound, un-jailed by technology so talking was an art practiced freely and patiently.
My strategy was simple: I had a series of questions that I asked everyone but changed the buzz word. For example, a sample first question would go like this: “How did you feel about food, (or sex, or money , or death) as a child?” That is, obviously Chris Burden answered the death questions and Carolee Schneemann answered the sex questions or was it fame? I’ve forgotten. Why did I do this? My reasoning was that I was not a social talker and grew up quite non-verbal and this project of ten years, instructed me, socialized me and allowed me to be-friend my friends in a deeper way.
Structurally, the book looks like this: there are twenty food interviews, including Leslie Labowitz, Bonnie Sherk and Suzanne Lacy, with an introduction to this section by Moira Roth; there are twenty four sex interviews, including Vito Acconci, Tim Miller and Hannah Wilke, with an introduction to this section by Christine Tamblyn; there are twenty one money/fame interviews, including Eleanor Antin, Simone Forti and Allan Kaprow, with an introduction to this section by Laura Cottingham; there are thirty six ritual/death interviews including Alex Grey, Chris Burden and John Cage, with an introduction to this section by Lucy Lippard.
My essay prefaces the book and I wax poetic over these one hundred artists who I deign to be saints and therapists for themselves and fabulous beings who “aesthetically transform secrets, fears, addictions, impulses and the shadow.” And I admit that the book could happen because at the time I did these interviews we were not, ” held captive by fax, video conferences, cellular phones, caller ID, or email.” I date myself because back then, cell phones were still referred to as “cellular phones!”
Angelica Festa uses her poetic beauty to trace my childhood silence and family method of communicating telepathically to the reason for the book in her brilliant introduction and in doing so, found ways to uncover my healed ability to now speak, having spoken to others.
Kristine Stiles offers a generous afterword, providing a historical context for the interviews and outlines four everyday life issues of the eighties and nineties and how they impact performance: AIDS/ perestroika/new electronic technologies/ ecological disasters.
This is a book that will speak forever because it was born when we were still speaking, using our eyes, voice and hearts.
CREDITS: Gratitude to : Stephanie Fay of The University of California Press, Richard Shiff, Kristine Stiles, Jane McFadden, Patrick Lakey, Ellie Hickerson, Sue Heinemann, Susan Ecklund, Yuki Takagaki , all of the artists and art historians and writers who appear in this book. The University of California Press, Berkeley, 2000.
LETTERS FROM LINDA M MONTANO
This is my most personal and autobiographical book probably because it was conceived at a time when I was extremely tested by life events and needed to be heard as art(book.) I had been denied tenure, was back in upstate NY and arranging all of these writings and low-keyed rants while healing from having lost a job. But there was another deeply personal issue happening: I was getting to re-know my father as friend for four years and eventually took care of him 24-7 for three years. This book is a plea to be heard, a call for support and understanding, disguised as “book.” Letters were my communication method as a child because I was, and continue to be, much more comfortable writing/performing, than talking , so I titled this book Letters from Linda M. Montano and used the letter-form throughout the book to alert the reader via the Dear Reader plea, to the fact that I needed them as friend and recipient of my stories and problems. Although I rarely have people in my personal space, this book allowed me to open the doors and invite Jennie Klein in to sleep, help, edit and make sense of the disparate categories which we of course chaptered into seven sections, reflecting my need to order and also duplicating the seven categories of my 7 Years of Living Art endurance. Jennie was here, in the house where I was raised, watching as we took care of my Dad who was in a hospital bed in the living room, so she absorbed so beautifully and compassionately, my situation at that time and I will always thank her for not only bringing this book to light, but for supporting me in the most incredibly complex event of my life, the caregiving of my father. This book reflects my need for an answer to the ancient questions of permanence/change and death. Sub-consciously I reasoned that I too will die but the book, my child, will live on.
The structure of the book:
Introduction: Jennie and I “perform” an email interview and for Introduction 2, I include the Chakra Fairy Tale from my website, always wondering if websites last? Do they disappear at death? Who will keep my website going when I am not around to pay Go Daddy? So here it is sans images. In fact there are only a few personal photos in this book, a testament to the fact that it is about the inner and not outer self, not what I have done but what I have thought and felt.
Chapter 1: INTERVIEWS: My love for interview is outrageously addictive and I begin the book with five colleagues interviewing me ; Hillary Robinson, Alex & Allyson Grey, Paul Couillard, Terri Cohn, Jenni Sorkin.
Chapter 2: THE ECSTASY OF SISTER ROSE: This chapter includes five stories about my spiritual practice: Forgiveness, Erotica, Art as Spiritual Practice, Theresa of Avila, Little Linda Becomes Performance Artist Chicken Linda Becomes Roman Catholic Linda Mary.
Chapter 3: WRITINGS: This chapter includes five essays: art as therapy, endurance, astral art, audience, art/life, Living Art.
Chapter 4: 14 Years of Living Art: I wanted to squeeze every image, every journal entry, every word into this chapter and ended up writing a letter to the reader apologizing for the fact that I couldn’t pack it all in but am waiting for a final book which will bring this work to print.
Chapter 5:TRANSITIONS: There are three entries for this chapter, tenure, Dad Art and death.
Chapter 6: HOW TO MANUAL: Having just left the university and a teaching profession, I was still stinking of the professor role so this chapter is from Linda the teacher. I explain how I teach, what I teach, how fear inhibits creation and ways people have studied with me via The Summer Saint Camp.
Chapter 7: A Good-bye Letter From Linda: I cry when I re-read this chapter. It is a touching letter to me, reminding me why I write and asking me to vow not to write another book for seven years. I kept that vow. Remember, my voice is heard when I write so this is probably one of the only ways that I hear me talk to me! I had to write a book to hold myself close.
CREDITS: PUBLISHER/EDITOR UK: TALIA RODGERS ROUTLEDGE 2005, Edited by JENNIE KLEIN, Book Blurb: MADY SCHUTZMAN.
YOU TOO ARE A PERFORMANCE ARTIST
In 2011, Janet Dees, a curator from SITE, SANTA FE visited me in upstate NY and expressed interest in showing my work at their museum. That began a two year “rehearsal” process among us- Janet, SITE and myself: talking about, thinking about and wondering about what to show, where in the museum and when. While researching, Janet went to the Video Data Bank, Chicago and looked at twelve of my films and decided which ones she wanted to present in the February – May 2013 exhibition. Surprised by some of her choices, I stepped back and allowed myself to be curated for this retrospective. Janet creatively and sensitively showcased, films; drawings; an interactive chalk board painted room with a ridiculously funny video of me greeting everyone in a faux-happy way; two performances; clothes worn by me for 14 years during 14 Years of Living Art, an in depth endurance/study of the seven Chakras. It was truly exciting to be asked to share my work, which she titled: Always Creative, so deeply and Janet art-doulaed me into and through the process, inviting me to come to Santa Fe to visit the museum and see where things would be placed, where films would be projected, where I would perform during the opening and closing of the show, where the fourteen foot lift would be situated outside the museum so that, for seven hours, I could sing along with a CD of Linda Ronstadt for the opening and sing along with a CD of Raka Mukerjee for seven hours for the closing.
The book-catalogue, YOU TOO ARE A PERFORMANCE ARTIST, was published by SITE, to coincide with the exhibition and much of the text was modified from my first book, ART IN EVERYDAY LIFE, which I had always wanted to update so that readers could learn from what I did and then follow my suggestions for ways they could translate my process into their own creations, performed in their own way. Simply put, I wanted to make a textbook/workbook and it happened.
Janet did just that and more! She created a masterpiece/catalogue of inclusion:
1. Preface by the Director of SITE, Irene Hoffmann.
2. MY ART-YOUR ART WORKBOOK by Linda Mary Montano.
3. Interview with Moira Roth.
4.Interview with Charles Duncan, The Brooklyn Rail.
5. Interview with Janet Dees.
6. The Primary Document is the Change by Janet Dees.
7. Always Creative Exhibition- photo documents.
Thank you Janet for seeing me. Thank you SITE for sharing me. With gratitude. Linda Mary Montano
SITE SANTA FE
Director of SITE: Irene Hoffmann
Curator of Always Creative: Janet Dees
Catalogue Design: Alex Hanna, Invisible City designs
Managing Editor: Joanne Lefrak
Copy Editor: Joanne Lefrak, Tim Scott, Sophie Engel
Editor: Janet Dees
Printed by :Starline Printing
14 YEARS OF LIVING ART
In my book LETTERS FROM LINDA M MONTANO, I bewailed that it was not inclusive enough to include more information about my 14 year endurance: 14 YEARS OF LIVING ART. In 2016, my student Cai Xi Silver’s husband, Adam Silver, come to my rescue and ferretted out slides about it, interviews about it, essays about it and he generously volunteered to gather everything and make it available as a free PDF, and so bypassing the market, the academy, the grandstanding of excellence that comes with publishing and blowing one’s own horn or having one’s horn blown by a giant publisher. I defer to self distribution and I am eternally grateful to Cai and her husband, Adam, designer/editor, for creating this platform of home-schooled dissemination and a treasure of a book which includes my journal entries from the first 7 years; essays and interviews by fabulous authors and artists about this endurance; the 14 drawings I made, one a year for 14 years with my right hand, year one to seven and with my left hand, year 8 to fourteen; photos from my retrospective of this study of the chakras and quite surprisingly, the 20 “love sex” stories that I wrote in the heat of this retreat into the powerful energies of the chakras. These soft and sorely encumbered non-porn stories are the aftermath of an affair gone berserk; a love not sanctioned; an intimacy unattended; a union of embarrassment; a wish unfulfilled; a passion unabated; a fire unattended. I was in those “have a baby fast” years….my forties…a time when the heat is on biologically to do it fast and I did it. I did it for years inaccurately. These 20 essays, dug up from my archive, probably needed to stay there, deep in the bowels of Brooklyn where such things as this are most likely stored by NYU Fales Library Archive which collected my papers in 2015! But no, here they are, proofs that I once fainted with the heat of a person, over and over. Now in my 70’s, I faint not with passion but with gratitude that I had those journeys to the unquenchable. Hopefully the inclusion of Love Sex stories will baffled your mind as much as they do mine. May all of your chakras/glands be happy, healthy and holy. 2017.
MY LAST BOOK: SCULPTURES/INSTALLATIONS/CERAMICS by LINDA MARY MONTANO
Occasionally I receive very helpful and positive messages, from my inner self about my work. It seems that I am hooked into a very kind muse and I follow her suggestions faithfully. She told me recently, “LINDA, NO MORE BOOKS! DON’T WRITE ANY MORE BOOKS EXCEPT THE ONE YOU TITLE MY LAST BOOK.” She shouted it. So here it is, my promise made public, the vow to the universe that I am, after this LAST BOOK, cutting back, stopping and promising not to publish again. I feel that I have said it all, done all that I have ever wanted, told all of my truth/secrets/messages and so I will pour tons into this one LAST BOOK, hoping a publisher will respond in kind . So in this LAST BOOK, I will describe the contents of 52 films I have made; share photos of all endurance “props” that I have used since 1971; I will show photos of early sculptures and describe my evolutionary process of going from ceramics, to sculpture to live chickens to myself as Chicken Woman. I want you to be happy to see me as a LIVING SCULPTURE in MY LAST BOOK and I want to announce that I am happy to retire from books, videos, and the need to publicly create as I move toward inwardly just BEING AS LIVING ART.
CREDITS: Writings/ performances/films/ ceramics/ sculptures by Linda Mary Montano. Published by___________