Linda Mary Montano: 14 Years of Living Art, a new “220-page portable book/archive” getting launched with an event at Golden Notebook (29 Tinker Street, Woodstock) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, charts the Saugerties’ native’s influential endurance performance art from 1984 to 1998 via the groundbreaking feminist artist’s journal writings, tantric tales, essays and interviews, instructions and “Art/Life instructions.” It includes drawings and photos of a period during which she lived in her Kingston home wearing strictly monochromatic clothing while spending a portion of every day in a colored room, listening to a designated tone, all of which corresponded to the energetic qualities of a specific chakra. That was followed by a memorialization of her mother during which she re-concentrated on the chakras and used various mystic traditions to found an Art/Life practice that sharpened one’s approach to living to a mindfulness akin to the best performative art.
Her later descriptions of these years, and this performance, ended up being described in her own words as a series of lessons learned: “Intuition is a good friend; irony is sometimes better; Giving ourselves the absolutely best job that we need to ‘shine’ is inherent in our nature; Self-discipline can never become self-punishment or it will backfire; If you need to be a priest, and are a woman, then make rules that are non-consequential, creative and fun and proceed to break them so you can forgive yourself; Life will open the chakras much more naturally than an imposed discipline ever could if the intention is in place…”
“The purpose of art is to create a silent mind and open heart; the art is secondary to the purpose and when the purpose is achieved, art can be dropped if it is an impediment to consciousness; It takes courage, art sponsors, curators, collectors, archivists, friends, critics, art historians, etc. to co-create work that is non-conversant with the mainstream…
I recall first running into Montano during a year, from summer 1983 to summer 1984, when she stayed bound to Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hsieh by 12 foot length of rope continuously. At first, as young persons fresh to New York City’s Tribeca area, we’d scoff whenever we saw the two in a local triangular park, dead serious, often silent. Over time, that performance shifted in my memory, becoming increasingly stoic and meaningful as a means of approaching my own life.
More recently, we’ve seen Montano collect and exhibit two dimensional works at Manhattan’s Riverside Church, perform with and as local artist/musician Paul McMahon (as well as Bob Dylan), and learned more about her many connections to others in the rising field of performative art, including years of deep friendship and quiet collaboration with the late Pauline Oliveros.
What to expect from Saturday’s performance, and this book getting launched? Anything, including readings and a promised “interactivearama by Montano with the audience,” on the one hand. Catharis and a mysterious conjunction between deep spirituality and the purest art concentration, as well. And likely other elements that may take years to transform into various shapes, and effects, within one’s evolving memory and sense of self and world.
Linda Mary Montano: 14 Years of Living Art launches at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 27 at 29 Tinker Street in Woodstock. For more information, see goldennotebook.com, lindamontano.com, or the book’s publisher, C.X. Silver Gallery in Brattleboro, VT, at cxsilvergallery.com/linda-mary-montano/.