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Friday, March 21, 2014

WISDOM: IS IT DOABLE? WHAT DOES DOROTHY DAY SAY?

 



                                               
               
           

 
                             WISDOM: IS IT DOABLE? WHAT DOES DOROTHY DAY SAY?                                             
 
       Presented at  ST FRANCIS HOUSE: A CATHOLIC WORKER HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY, Connecticuit
 
                                                  Linda Mary Montano                                                                                          

PART 1

As we age, we gather more and more information and it takes us longer to retrieve facts and longer to cross reference neurocortexed  details from physical memories, psychological memories, moral memories, factual memories and spiritual memories. As a result of this multi level firing of information packets stored in our past experiences, we slow down to retrieve and let our wiring do it's job. This is not a bad thing but is often seen as a misdemeanor and sign of wrong, wrong, and more wrong. And the worst case scenario is that fear and trembling set in, the adrenal glands do the fight-flight dance and memory stalls to a halt. Permission to be slow, to walk slow, to think slow, to eat slow, to talk slow is a great cure for that.  Slow life, I salute you.

Back to the wise: The wise are spacious and exude an atmosphere of rich acceptance of reality as it is and  often wise elders are doppleganger-stand ins for  Zen masters when they are that in touch with their natural deep selves. Both exude mountain-like majesty.

So it is good to be  wise, good to be  slow and deep and spacious, certainly not qualities found on day and night TV shows  where speed, verbal karate and lightening -like dismissal of the moment and the other is a commodity to be treasured.

So now that being old and wise seems so fabulous, how do we approximate, imitate or practice to be wise. Here are a few suggestions; some are taken from an article by Vivian Clayton.

We all well know that the wise do all or some of these good things:

 *move mindfully&physically as much and as often as possible
*move mentally according to individual interests
*learn how to cultivate positive relationships
*volunteer according to individual interests by either physically going somewhere or digitally/spiritually supporting others
*deflect self-aggrandizement for positive recognition of others
*embrace acceptance
*eat to nourish and cleanse
*practice a spiritual  path
*learn to die daily to prepare for the final death
*laugh a lot

In my own story, my grandmother was my teacher...a radical and creative woman who created art  instead of worry about her life issues. She taught me  to transform my personal  monsters into myths via the arts.

 Because of her,  I wanted to always have elders in my life and in the 90's I interviewed a few of them from upstate NY and they mentored me to move toward aging with humility and humor.  The video ALWAYS CREATIVE tells their stories and can be found for free on You Tube to be seen in its entirety at your leisure.

The second video, LINDA MONTANO CELEBRATES MOTHER TERESA'S 100TH BIRTHDAY, is a performance I did in front of the Empire State Building in protest of the fact that they would not turn on the blue and white tower lights of the building  for Mother Theresa but turned on yellow lights for Sponge Bob. Their bad! I was there for 3 days, 3 hours a day, blessing people and many times being mistaken for the saint herself! I recommend theatre-training to anyone who would also like to experience walking in the shoes of someone they admire, just for a day!

Why did I choose to imitate Mother Teresa? I have been exploring myself as other personas, some imaginary, some real since 1976. About 7 years ago I developed a neurologic disorder called Cervical Dystonia, a spasming of neck muscles and cramping of other body muscles. One day in the middle of being totally twisted I said to myself, " I feel (actually look) like Mother Teresa, all bent over"!  and immediately as I thought this  the inner invitation to be her was born. Having gotten a permission from her nuns in the Bronx to act as if I were their foundress, I proceeded to appear as Mother Teresa for years.

I ask:  who was your positive elder-teacher in your childhood? Choose  one.  What did that elder give you? How have you used those teachings in your life?

PART 2

Dorothy Day was wise before she was old, i'm sure. Prayer is a wisdom-maker and so is suffering . I ask Dorothy Day to shine her wisdom on us and open those doors that yearn to feel wise light.

During the video LINDA MONTANO CELEBRATES MOTHER TERESA'S 100TH BIRTHDAY,  I will read a few sentences from the movie, ENTERTAINING ANGELS, a docudrama of the life of Dorothy Day, the founder along with Peter Marin, of the CATHOLIC WORKER and CATHOLIC WORKER HOUSES OF HOSPITALITY, as I stand with great honor in one of DOROTHY DAYS, HOUSES OF HOSPITALITY, ST FRANCIS HOUSE .

*CHRIST IS IN THE PEOPLE, READY TO FILL OUR EMPTINESS.

*YOU'RE A SMART WOMAN, MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND.

*DOROTHY'S PRAYER: YOU'VE GOT TO TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT, WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO DO. I WRITE BUT THAT'S NOT ENOUGH. PLEASE SHOW ME HOW. PLEASE.

*PEOPLE WHO ACT DONT THINK, PEOPLE WHO THINK DONT ACT.PETER  MARIN

*TAKE LESS SO OTHERS CAN HAVE MORE.

*FIND GOD. GOD IS AS CLOSE AS THE CLOSEST HUMAN BEING. ESPECIALLY THE POOR.

*THE POOR NEED A VOICE, YOU SHOULD START A NEWSPAPER. PETER MARIN

*JUSTICE AND PEACE GO TOGETHER. YOU CANT HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER.

*IF YOU FEED THE POOR YOU ARE A SAINT. IF YOU ASK WHY THEY ARE POOR YOU ARE A COMMUNIST. WE DO BOTH HERE AND WE ARE NEITHER SIANTS OR COMMUNISTS.

*HELP PEOPLE FEEL LOVED BY GOD.

*DOROTHY'S PRAYER: WHERE ARE YOU? WHY DONT YOU ANSWER ME? I NEED YOU. I'M EMPTY, I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE.

*I'VE BEEN DOING ALOT OF THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU SAID LAST NIGHT. YOU'RE RIGHT. I'VE BEEN ARROGANT AND SELF RIGHTEOUS WITH THE INTENT OF DOING EVERYTHING MYSELF INSTEAD OF LETTING GOD WORK THROUGH ME.  AND I'M SORRY FOR ALL OF THAT. IVE BEEN THINKING OF WHAT IT IS THAT GOD WANTS ME TO DO. IT'S BEEN A VERY LONELY LIFE AND IVE BEEN LOOKING TO FILL THE EMPTINESS AND NOW I SEE IT BEGINS WITH THESE PEOPLE. THEY ARE MY MEETING PLACE WITH GOD. IF I WERE JUST GIVEN A CHANCE I KNOW THAT GOD WOULD FILL ME WITH LOVE, FILL ME THROUGH THESE PEOPLE AND I HOPE THAT I DONT HAVE TO DO IT ALONE. BUT IF YOU CHOOSE TO LEAVE I WILL UNDERSTAND.

*THE PAPER IS NEVER GOING TO BE WHAT YOU OR I WANT I T TO BE BUT I DONT THINK THAT GOD WILL JUDGE US ON HOW SUCCESSFUL WE WERE TO CHANGE THE WORLD BUT ON HOW FAITHFUL WE WERE IN SERVING THE POOR.

* DOROTHY DAY CONTINUED TO FEED THE HUNGRY, CLOTHE THE NAKED, SHELTER THE HOMELESS UNTIL HER DEATH IN 1980. A CHAMPION OF NON-VIOLENCE, SHE WAS JAILED REPEATEDLY FOR PROTESTING THE NUCLEAR ARMS RACE AND THE WAR IN VIETNAM.
 L
Quotes taken from the docu-drama  ENTERTAINING ANGELS

Sunday, March 9, 2014

LOVE BATH FOR WHITNEY HOUSTON BIENNIAL MARCH 2014



                                A 33 SECOND LOVE-BATH


1. HOLD OUT BOTH OF YOUR HANDS.

2. SEE, FEEL, SENSE, GREAT AND BEAUTIFUL LOVE AND LIGHT IN YOUR  HANDS.

3. THEN PLACE BOTH HANDS ON YOUR GLANDS OR HEART OR HEAD OR EYES.

4. SAY AND SING  TO YOURSELF OUT LOUD OR PRIVATELY, " I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE   YOU MY BABY. "

5. REPEAT WHEN YOU WOULD LIKE ANOTHER LOVE-BATH.


Linda Mary Montano, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

DEATHATHON-LIFEATHON: A 2 DAY ART/LIFE ENDURANCE

                                     DEATHATHON-LIFEATHON



                            

                                         A 2 DAY PERFORMANCE



WISH LIST

              DEATHATHON-LIFEATHON- A 2 DAY ENDURANCE-PERFORMANCE


DAY 1: DEATH-ATHON.
Death is out of the closet. It’s really on TV, been googled and you tubed. Nothing is hidden anymore.
For years I have made a study of death in my art and this 4 hour marathon will be a sharing of my videos and performances which address old age, sickness and death.

A. DEATH IN THE ART/LIFE OF LINDA MARY MONTANO. This video is a re-seeing of a slide lecture that I presented in 1997 at the University Of Texas Austin. It includes death customs and the death rituals of different cultures.  I have re-made it as a video, 2014, and open the marathon with an overview of death in my  art/life and the lives of others. 40 minutes.

B.DYSTONIA, 2011. I developed a neurological chronic disease, cervical dystonia, and receive botox injections in my neck every 3 months to control spasms. This is my first physical illness and I include this video as a part of the trilogy of the Buddhist teachings on old age, sickness and death as preludes to the impetus to study of the Dharma. DYSTONIA is a metaphor for what happens when the body becomes fragile and the immune system begins to weaken.20 minutes.

C. NURSE NURSE!! 2013. This video is a spoof and an ironic look at dementia and it’s cure which is compassion, mindfulness and surrender. I play act being totally bananas and out of control, angry and aggressive. And then I counteract the same scenario, for example, being given meds, with a kind and gentle response to the nurse giving me pills. It is not funny, it is tragic. But it is a necessary rehearsal for a fait accompli waiting for many of us boomers. A song of thanks to caregivers ends the tape.30 minutes.

D. BENARES, 1997. I went to Benares to observe and film cremations  on the banks of the Ganges. I was also interested in seeing how elders were cared for and how they spent their time. It happened. I went there, saw everything and cured myself of my need for any more death voyeurism. The resulting video is a powerful meditation on the swiftness of life and the open and visible disposal of the mortal coil. 30 minutes.

E. MITCHELL’S DEATH, 1981. In 1977 my ex-husband Mitchell Payne, photographer, was murdered. I was devastated and went immediately to my art to feel it. I wrote, made films and the video classic, MITCHELL’S DEATH is the resulting, raw document of the time from the minute I heard about his death to the time that I saw his body in the funeral home. 22 minutes.

F. DAD ART, 2005. I took care of my father Henry Montano for 7 years and we started doing a video film together. Then he had a stroke and was in bed for 3 years. I didn’t put the camera down but hid behind it for those three years so that I could be protected from  my sorrow as I watched him slowly die. This film is a song to him and his last  breath. a 2 hour video with performance by MONTANO and 5 volunteers.
During this 4 hour marathon, I will be available and share ART/LIFE COUNSELING    with those in attendance.  Pot luck food will be shared during the marathon and people can come and go, visit, do their internet business and use the time to have face presence with each other.

(After MITCHELL’S DEATH, we will have a 15 minute intermission and prepare for THE DAD ART VIDEO-PERFORMANCE.(2hours)


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DAY 2: LIFE-ATHON

I have been using the concept  of Endurance in my performances in order to obliterate time and my preoccupation with past and future projecting, so that I can stay in NOW. I do things for a long “time” so I can forget “time” and simply “be” and not do.

In this 7 hour Lifeathon, I will be sitting on a mechanical lift raised in the air 14 feet, and singing either RAKA MUKERJEES Ragas or LINDA RONSTADTS Songs , along with their CD’s.

I have used a mechanical lift in many other performances over the years as a symbolical and ironical tool to indicate ascension, flight, release and more truthfully and probably a subconscious arrogance and narcissistic need for height over everyone else!

- See more at: http://www.lindamontano.com/wish-list/#sthash.XVXmE5ac.dpuf

ENDURANCE THEN AND NOW: 1998. LAST LECTURE TO UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS ART DEPATMENT



ENDURANCE:THEN AND NOW : Linda Mary Montano 1998 This presentation/paper is not only about my work; it is also designed to include you the listener/reader because I will be asking you endurance questions. Share with me.            
lindamontano@hotmail.com
 
  ENDURANCE:THEN AND NOW :  Linda Mary Montano  1998 This presentation/paper is not only about my work; it is also designed to include you the listener/reader because I will be asking you endurance questions throughout. For example: What event in your life challenged you to endure? Take a minute and review the event. Where are you now with this event? Are you in the waiting stage, feeling the emotions? (Pause) Or are you in the anger stage, confronting the event? (Pause) Or have you transformed the event, accepted it, made art with or about it? Wherever you are, the non-defined feeling stage, the anger stage or the transforming stage, is where you are and the place you need to be.

NOTE: The week before Christmas, I sat by my father's bed, 24 hours a day for 6 days and nights , in an upstate NY hospital, as he recovered from disc surgery. I listened as he hallucinated from the pain killers and observed visually the woman down the hall strapped to her chair across from the nurses station, sounding like the female comedians from the British TV sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous.
 Barbara was her name and she was raging, remembering past injustices from childhood, calling to God (This is not the only reason to be nice to people...they never forget any unkindness on a cellular level.) I was the observer, watching it all, choosing to be there. Who was waiting in this scenario? Who was enduring? Was it art or just a case of life waiting to be magically changed into art?

 ENDURANCE:
 I have always been interested in enduring. As a young Catholic girl, I knelt before the bloody, gory, Crucifix in our upstate NY church and I waited, endured the discomfort that comes from kneeling, endured the isolation that comes from choosing church over play and "fun", endured the possibility that I might not be good enough or saintly enough to go to heaven or be like Jesus. I was definately linked to suffering , penance and the guilt fast track at a young age. I remember how nuns would talk about Christ and how He endured the suffering of carrying the cross, how he fell down, how he was nailed to the cross, and died miserably, forgiving everyone. His endurance etched itself into my belief system and when I was seven years old, I wanted to be a saint and I thought to do that I had to suffer like Jesus. That became the plot and story line for my entire life quest.
To do thatAt twenty I entered a convent, "enduring " two years as a Catholic nun ,living in silence those two years except for one hour a day when we all talked together in recreation. I loved the community and dedication to a higher good and absolutely pure goal, but I left anorexic, having lost nearly 50 pounds in six months, high as a kite on endorphins . Holy anorexia? Delusions? Endurance gone amuck?
When I was introduced to art soon after I left, I immediately found a way to transfer religious fervor and my prediliction for penance and suffering into my work; first as sculpture and then as performance art.
For example, I sat for hours, lay down for hours, danced for hours, in public, asking audiences to watch me endure. Give me attention I demanded, witness my long-term commitment. And in so doing, I felt more alive as I soaked in their curiosity. It was as if I couldn't exist without them. Their presence was like a bath of recognition and approval and I wanted them to delight in my actions. Without the other's gaze, I didn't feel at all so I learned more intricate ways to raise my own energy and get others to view me doing so and then there would be this synergistic marriage of static electricity going on. They were in this web of my mysteries as viewer and manipulated into the role of voyeur, mid-wife to my happiness and co-creator of my art.
Some images from that time:
1.Lying three hours in a bed surrounded by 12 paper mache chickens, me dressed as a saint....enduring.
2.Sitting as a saint , in 9 places in Rochester, three hours each place , holding a home-made chicken sculpture....enduring.
3.Walking on a treadmill for three hours going uphill, telling my life story...enduring.
4.Lying in view three hours with acupuncture needles in my conception vessel.....enduring.
5.Standing outside ringing a bell as a Salvation Army bell ringer....enduring.
6.Living 3 days handcuffed to Tom Marioni....enduring.
7.Living blindfolded for a week, preparing for old age and potential blindness.... enduring.
8.Living in a gallery room as five different people, one a day...enduring.
9.Studying the martial arts so as to channel rage into good action...enduring.
10.Mouring the death of my ex-husband for two years as art....enduring.
11.Singing a song for three hours to my husband after his death....enduring.
12.Camping out in many galleries, museums and art spaces , using everyday life as art....enduring.
13.Going to the New Museum once a month for seven years, giving Art/Life Counseling...enduring.
14. Living for a year tied by a rope to Tehching Hsieh in his ONE YEAR PERFORMANCE..enduring.
15.Living for 14 years in seven different colors to honor the chakras and sacraments...enduring.

PAUSENow take some time and imagine your own performance. Create an action in your imagination that would mirror one of your life issues and see yourself enduring.
Certainly there is a psychological and freudian view that can be seen in my work but let's also suppose that the work is a very intuitive shamanic and ritualistic way that I invented to lead myself into altered states of consciousness while bringing the viewer along with me on this interior and mysterious journey.
Possibly there are many ways of viewing my intentions and I believe that sometimes there is a thin line between neurotic narcissism and tantric, shamanic soul travel.
Like Catherine of Siena, and many other Catholic saints and mystics, I was enamoured of endurance so I could tough it out, prepare myself for the hard knocks of life, so I could fight the good fight, bite the bullet, so I could keep it up,  go the whole nine yards, get the job done and give my all. (For me? For God? ....that took a long time to decipher.)
Once I learned of Hindu yogis and their methods of achieving stillness, concentration, equanimity and inner silence, I felt in the company of kindered spirits and brother-sister travelers. For example, Tibetan nuns, lost/found in trance, endure rigorous/repetitive mantras, visualizations, penances, charnel ground watchings, all meant to make then impervious to Himalayan cold, pain, the mind and illusions of the relative world.
These practictioners are some of my guides, helpers, teachers mentors and inspirations on my path.

PAUSEWho is your helper? See this person. Thank them. Vow to become a helper to someone else in the future.

We have looked at my background. Let's now look at some universal reasons why we all endure. Endurance is built into our system because under this skin is a galaxy of networks, a mysterious world of muscles, bones, veins, and organs which endure our turbulent emotional states, endure our tortured thoughts, endure our various and punitive diets, endure the torture of climate changes and home-uprootings, endure our lovelessness, endure our fertile negative imaginings and paranoias,  endure our tortured memories and traumatic secrets, endure our disrespect for authorities and bitterness toward everyone's good intention .
PAUSE
 See your body in great detail. Clear it of all past endurances that hurt.

ART&ENDURANCE
We artists love to create solutions to all of the above and in the late 60's there came into the art stream a group of creators who made Body Art. Many of us used endurance as a primary material for our work. Some of the reasons might be:
1.That endurance was a reaction against the linearity and dogmatism of minimal art.
2.That endurance artists were interested in leaving the world of buying and selling art, of making our work for each other, for ourselves, not for slick documents, mindless magazines, judging audiences or uncaring strangers.
3.That artists publically used the drugs of the day; marijuana, hashish, LSD, and peyote. Drugs which allowed them to hang out and endure for long periods of time in trance and altered states, as art.
4.That the womens' movement and civil rights movements inspired artists to experiment with issues of sensitivity training and consciousness-raising, as art.
5.That artists of the 60's formed deep bonds with both eastern spiritual teachers and with American Indian elders who helped us see and feel new ways of honoring and appreciating our bodies and the earth. These wise teachers taught us self-initiatory and risk-taking rituals which could be used to mark important passages. They introduced us to death-defying actions, risk-taking attitudes, and important maturity retreats. Later, once we learned from them, we translated the teachings into our performances. Now reality tv's souless translations of our experiments mirror our work but miss the inner meaning.
ENDURANCE AND WOMEN ARTISTS
 There has always been division around gender. How did women "endure"?  And men?
Performance art became the art of choice for women artists in the 70's since it offered a fluid, intuitive, healing, versatile, spontaneous and dynamic method akin to the physical waitings/endurings that women perform at childbirth and in the act/art of child raising.
Some women who endured:
Faith Wilding ,waited;
Nancy Youdelman exaggerated;
Judy Chicago healed;
Carolee Schneemann liberated;
Hannah Wilke exposed;
Eleanor Antin satarized;
MierleUkeles respected;
Annie Sprinkle shared;
Katren Finley raged;
Suzanne Lacy aged;
all of them used time and material in new ways and courageously forged ahead of a tired system of painting/sculpture current at that time.


MEN AND ENDURANCE
Men also played with time and initiated themselves but somewhat differently.
Joseph Beuys wrapped;
Tehching Hsieh deprived;
Chris Burden crucified;
Stelarc hung;
Terry Fox cured;
Richard Long walked;
Vito Acconci yanked;
Tom Marioni drank.
And not to confuse the issue, what about couples?
Alex and Alison Grey processed;
Marina Abromovic and Ulay stared;
Barbara Smith and past lovers embraced;
Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh got roped.
PAUSECan you imagine how you would initiate yourself into a life passage? Write it, sing it, perform it , keep it secret but by all means BE SAFE!!
Or join an invisible internet community where travel, audience and applause are non-existent.

CONCLUSION:
My father once told me when I was complaining about a life issue....I think it was insurance prices....He said, "Life is hard enough. Don't make hard things harder." And in his year book his legacy is, SOMEONE WHO MAKES DIFFICULT THINGS SEEM EASY.By practicing endurance, possibly we can prepare in a strong way for times when we need to be even stronger.

This paper was given during my last performance at  UT Texas as a good-bye.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

THE ARCHIVE NOW LIVES AT N.Y.U. FALES LIBRARY: THIS INTERVIEW WORKED!!!!


 

Linda Montano


LINDA M. MONTANO’S ARCHIVE
Elizabeth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle
Seminal performance artist Linda M. Montano’s archive is for sale. The buyer must insure that her life’s work will be properly preserved so it can be studied and enjoyed by future generations. Several major art institutions have nibbled and it won’t be long before one bites. Take a guided tour of the archive anytime; go to You Tube, search “Linda Mary Montano Archive For Sale.” Linda herself is the tour guide. There are three levels. Level I includes her paper writings, books, reviews and letters. Level 11 includes Level 1 plus her clothing, photo documents, early paintings, and items she used in her every day life, signed as performance art ephemera, as her “life is art.” With Level 111 the archive comes with a two-story building; “The Art/life Institute” in Kingston, New York, an artfully restored bakery, which Linda rebuilt and decorated herself.
At 69 years old, Linda Montano is going strong and her archive continues to grow. During a recent public intervention she spent three days in front of the Empire State Building performing as Mother Teresa of Calcutta where she greeted passers by and spread the love. Montano’s work has always been humanitarian in nature. The sari with the blue trim which she wore, will be added to the archive. These days Montano is a self-described “Catholic Performance Artist,” creating yet another groundbreaking genre of performance art. This is “testimony to my Catholic childhood and need to re-see early roots.”
Montano’s many endurance and durational pieces have strongly influenced contemporary performance art. Her visual art, her teaching, and “life as art” performances have profoundly moved and inspired many. She began doing performance art full time in 1971. Before that she lived in a Roman Catholic convent for two years preparing to be a Maryknoll nun, on a mission to help those in need and “cure leprosy.” When she became severely anorexic she had to leave the convent, and then she discovered that art making was her best medicine for recovery. Thus began her strong connection between art and life, and her conception of “life is art.”
Montano went on to get her MA in sculpture at Villa Schifanoia in Italy, then her MFA at the University of Wisconsin. She lived and worked in San Francisco from 1970 to 1975 and returned often to teach classes and workshops. She lived in a Zen Monastery. Later, she studied for thirty years at the Ananda Ashram with her spiritual teacher, Dr. Ramamurti Mishra. Montano taught performance art at many universities including the San Francisco Art Institute, Bard College, Temple University, Ohio University and University of Texas. Linda Montano has initiated many people into serious art practices and has given permission to others to make art of their life.
A few of Montano’s historic performance pieces are Rope Piece, where she and artist Tehching Hsieh tied themselves together with eight feet of rope between them for one full year during his Art/Life: One Year Performance. They never removed the rope and never touched. She has performed two seven-year-long pieces; 14 Years Of Living Art 1984-1998, where each year of her life was devoted to a different theme and color, and different commitments based on the theology of the seven chakras. During the first seven-year piece, once a month she sat in the window of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan, read people’s tarot cards and gave them Art/Life Counseling as art. The lines were continuous and many people reported that the experience changed their lives for the better. Her videos such as Mitchell’s Death and Learning to Talk are part of any respectable history of performance art class and have played in the world’s finest museums and galleries, including the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art. From 1998 To 2005 Montano “experienced” seven years of “Dad Art,” caretaking her sick father who eventually passed away. She states that, “this event was the culmination of my entire practice as an artist.”
Fourteen years ago, Linda Montano put out a public invitation to other artists to utilize her seven-year Living Art performance structure and do their own life’s version of it. This project is titled Another 21 Years of Living Art 1998-2019. Currently 14 other artists are doing her piece incorporating their own unique vision, including an eight-year-old boy in collaboration with his artist mom in Australia. We are fortunate to be part of that group, and the experience has been extraordinary.

ART/LIFE WITH LINDA M. MONTANO
Interview by Elizabeth M. Stephens and Annie M. Sprinkle
Beth: Which do you use, “life as art” or “art as life?” And how did this term get into circulation?
Linda: It is interchangeable and I learned it from Alan Kaprow who studied with Suzuki. I was in San Francisco in the 70′s and was also influenced by Tom Marioni, Terry Fox, Howard Fried, Barbara T. Smith, and Bonnie Sherk who created the FARM. I see ART=LIFE/LIFE=ART as an Asian concept—that the sacredness of life touched everything– that art is indistinguishable from life. That’s why Kaprow along with John Cage and Pauline Oliveros, became enamored of chance operations. They took away the “judging head ” and broke down barriers. Then, moving to San Diego, I continued to be influenced by Pauline and Kaprow and Ellie Antin who taught at UC San Diego as well. Pauline had put her tape recorder on the windowsill and decided to tape everything, listen to everything and compose with that spaciousness….sound=music.
And of course the Women’s Building in Los Angeles, was a giant ART/LIFE experience/experiment.
Beth: So if you think about the work you’ve done and where you have been, what do you think your most important contributions have been to the art world?
Linda: Humor, an ironic twist that pushes things to another level and takes away the kind of seriousness and pomposity that could be a kind of elititism, and birth a world of artists who have gifts and brains that would set them apart from the populous, the people.

Annie: Do you have a favorite work you have produced?
Linda: My favorite “piece” really was taking care of my father. That was a quintessential art life piece. I used my video camera not to make art but to hide behind because of the pain of having to watch him with my own eyes. When I started seeing it as art it was easier to witness, see and transform what was happening. Then later after my Dad died, I made a two-hour movie about him. That was pivotal, because it changed me from what I was before to what I am now. I went back in time, back into my child house, my childhood. Being so near my father, and the intensity of that, I became another person. Humor was my gift in my early work. I see the humor somewhat now, but it’s not a consistent humor. There is something else, and I’m not sure what. Something more real has entered. It’s not that I have given up humor. I just performed as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, which had a twinge of irony because here I am a “dystoniac”(I have cervical dystonia) bent over in spasm, and making believe I’m her. That’s funny, no? There is also something else that is interesting that is happening. In 1970 I sat in front of a video camera for a year and became different characters. Now I’m wanting to become live people. Now I’m wanting to not be make-believe people, but Mother Teresa, Bob Dylan, and Paul McMahon. Before I was Dr. Jane Gooding, and it was fake. Before I was trying to get out of myself and now I’m trying to get nearer to people, to get out of isolation and into intimacy. I will be “you” because I need to share my life. Before it was I’ve gotta get out of my life and be these false people. Also I just finished an essay on this titled “Masks.” See my blog: (HTTP://LINDAMARYMONTANO.BLOGSPOT.COM) I talk about the four levels of consciousness: unconscious, subconscious, conscious and superconscious and I see that I have portrayed all four levels in my persona work: the alcoholic, the professional, the real person(Bob Dylan) and the Guru. It all revolves around accepting all aspects of the self. The neurobiological aspects of rehearsing being another person, changes my brainwaves.

Annie: I adore your humor. Your humor starts in my gut and radiates out my body. It’s not a surface humor that goes inward but a very deep humor that explodes outward. It is spiritually that provides spiritual nourishment.
Linda: Thanks Annie. My grandmother was very funny. She would take her teeth out on holidays and sing. And my mother dressed up on Halloween and went trick or treating.
Beth: My grandmother would take her teeth out too! It was very funny, and very scary. What do you think is the highest form of life-art?
Linda: Anything that creates an ecstasy in the artist; where there is a suspension of time, of judgment. Suspension. There’s a riding the wave of ecstasy when everyone is on the same page. No one is dragging the rudder of judgment or disbelief. It is when the artist is in the state of creation… Or when the artist is co-creating with other ARTISTS/LIFEISTS and they are riding the same train in the same manner and don’t care about time or space. In Catholicism it is called The Mystical Body of Christ. In life, it is ecstasy.

Annie: Are you proud to be an artist?
Linda: I’m very, very happy that I was chosen. I don’t think you choose. The universe chooses people. I am honored to be chosen to be an artist. I don’t think I have anything to do with it.

Beth: What’s the most fun you have had making art?
Linda: I love being different personas, I love being other people. The first time I was Mother Teresa I blew myself away. Me blowing me! And that is so correct because we think… is this blowing the audience away? No, that is the wrong thinking. We have to blow ourselves into ecstasy. When I was studying sculpture in Italy, I dropped the idea of being a studio artist. I collected Italian found objects , audience members picked up an object (according to numbers) which they individually assembled and make a sculpture. That was the beginning of my liberation. Another one happened when my college teacher and mentor, Mother Mary Jane at the College of New Rochelle, gave me “art-wings” and I made a group ceramic mural on a public wall in 1965. Oh yes, freedom for sure.

Annie: You’ve been using recycled materials for a LONG time. Would you say you’ve been in the environmental art movement?
Linda: I think it’s more that I learned thrift, a frugality and a respect for matter from my family. I remember my dad drawing one bowl of water to wash in the morning; everything was done with this one bowl of “sacred” water. Our life was very monastic. My grandmother recycled everything and had a whole album full of condensed milk cows cut from labels. Yeah, recycling is natural to some people because they grew up that way. And then it becomes a movement like Art Povera or Eco-art.
Poverty, war, recessions, depression, a non-consumerist ethos allows for a neo environmental-green that is now au courant.

Beth: Is there such a thing as a failed art project in art/life?
LINDA: We must always think about consequences even though we are these freedom-fighting-geniuses called artists. I would say, as a cautionary word, that the beauty of our calling as artists is to see beyond; we must be the creator, beyond limits, and regulations, and beyond consequences. And yet in the world of reality there ARE consequences. That’s the paradox and makes some of us want to stay in the cave. It takes time and wisdom, and it takes stumblings, and those kinds of haphazard and consequential mistakes to realize that first flush of, oh, I’m going to do this and its going to be fabulous, without thinking of the consequences. Horribleness happens. It is part of the game. But as I age, I can take less and less of it as my stress level seizes me up. Honestly I’m quite content sitting in the kick back chair and watching Entertainment Tonight re-runs. Its good ART/LIFE for me and I am failure-free!!

Beth: So do you think there is such a thing as failure, or is it just part of the process of becoming an artist, and an adult?
Linda: I think that there are no mistakes because there is reality in both. It is “What can I stomach?” I just wrote a “hell” poem inspired from my college days studying the Divine Comedy. My version is composed of layers of hell with exclamations of pain. The poem is titled ENTER (see blog). It is about serial failures and it was so cleansing to write. Failure as art. Exorcising the dark….

Beth: Can you talk about being a Catholic performance artist Linda?
Linda: In these complex times of recessive recessions, downsized possessions, boundaried vacations, medical quarantines, folded funding, foreclosed dreams, I decided or felt called to Become a Catholic Again! It is an exciting return and also has its own challenges. Being a Catholic artist is very new for me, about 10 years old. It came from teaching at the university because there, I had “art children” and I didn’t know how to be an “art mother”. I had been a gig-er before that. I went to gigs in different cities/countries, did my thing and left. No consequences, no muss, no fuss. But teaching for seven years with a group of young people at the same place was a whole other ball game. I had to be a moral compass and protector of their physical/psychological/spiritual safety. Not having had children, I had no idea how to do that so there were times when there were flower-child-art-students, running aesthetically in the halls and a whole lot of performative incredibleness happening that Linda-art loved but Linda-teacher had no idea how to decipher. I went to the Church to get help!

Beth: If you had a young student now that wanted to do life art what advice would you give?
Annie: I’d say ‘call Linda Montano because she’s the best art mother there is.’
Linda: Annie, you are always so generous and supportive of me, and I tear-up with it always… What would I say? Don’t be scared, yet be careful. I’m watching an extremely ill friend who is in her sixties. She had a stroke. Kathy Brew and I were standing next to her bed. She was in critical care. We sang to each other, because we were both feeling the same thing, “What’s it all about Alfie?” And I guess we both agreed that it doesn’t matter how long that resume is when it comes down to the deathbed and final breath. I think I’m coming to that kind of realization which time and age reveal… How to illustrate this? I think when people begin aging and see other people age and when things change so drastically, like my father’s illness, and then returning to Catholicism, having a medical issue where I’m so health focused… I think priorities change.
Can I now be as spicy, and as loyal to the image, to my students, to the video, to the performance, to my brilliance, or to the painting as Georgia O’Keefe was in an interview of her I saw when she was ninety-two. She looked as sharp and committed and focused on being an artist… just like a rattlesnake watching her prey ….and this I could see as she was getting out of her car, going up into the woods on her way to paint New Mexico sunsets. I want to bull dog my way to the end and hang on to the bone of my art and life in a dignified, totally comical, graceful, divinely directed and correct way just like Georgia. Fate might deal me a different strategy. Thanks to my belief-system, it is all, no matter what, wonderful art and a wonderful life.

Beth: Do you think your work is interventionist art? And what do you think that term means?
Linda: There are programs on some of the 400,000 TV programs I watch a week that are about interventions for drugs, alcohol, etc. I think intervention is about: speaking the difficult. Artists really hang out in the difficult, are obliged to communicate the difficult.

Annie: How do you feel like feminism and religion have interacted with your work?
Linda: Feminism is a word that I really don’t apply to myself and I feel really quite inept in this journey I’m on with this Catholic position. Sometimes its working and I’m pretty happy with it and other times not. For example, I go to the jail on Sundays and do a Catholic service there. There is one guard, a man, who likes telling anti-Catholic jokes. There are two other women there and they just listen to the jokes and laugh. They’re more mature than I am. Last time he said he had a new joke. I said, ‘Is it a Catholic joke? Because if it is, I’m leaving.’ And I left. I don’t like the way I did it. I’m proud that I left, but I wish I had done it with more creativity, with humor. With ART! Creativity is the ticket. How to get out of situations or into situations that are more nourishing because I ended up winning in my own eyes, and I don’t want to do that any more. Loving is winning because when l look at a friend on her deathbed…who cares who’s winning. Who cares? There’s just one less person at MY funeral when I’m so intent on winning!

Annie: In terms of your art life practice what are you current commitments/projects now? Didn’t you take a vow to not write for a year?
Linda: The writing commitment is up 2012. It was for seven years. I was going to wear orange forever, and that is getting really mushy. I have a lot of orange clothes but I slip in browns and purples and reds. But as I said before, I’m more focused on compiling, completing, concluding the past, and bringing it into some sort of crescendo/conclusion. That was why I took this no-writing vow. I wanted to cure myself of greedily creating as if I were an art addict and not a lover of truth. Artaholics are not necessary.

Beth: Could you talk about the current group that Annie and I are participating in with you? There are about ten other artists using your Seven Years of Life as Art and seven-chakra structure. Are you glad you made the call for people to join you in using your structure? Is this maybe a strategy for a longer project? What’s it like collaborating with people? What is your response to having this project?
Linda: As far as 21 Years of Living Art is concerned, every 7 years, artists “do their 7 year thing” under the auspices of this school that I founded because I truly love endurance and I wanted to share my love with others. One day I see my thinking about what people are doing in this school as ecumenical-offerings which are not quite Roman Catholic but certainly are spiritual (not religious), and then the next day I want to hide and feel as if I am uncomfortably pushing my boundaries of Catholic belief. Yes, that says it, my boundaries of belief. So right now the school is a wonderful mix of geniuses who are forcing me into deciding whether I’m going to be a fundamentalist finger wagging Catholic church woman via SNL, or if I am there to encourage creativity.

Beth: Here’s a question from our editor, Roxi Hamilton, “How do you feel that ritual and longevity, like 7-year performance cycles, intervene in and shape our conceptions of how art affects life?”
Linda: I want her to answer that one!
Beth: Here’s another one from Roxi., “ How do you regard your extension of ancestry, and that’s borrowing appropriating and extending your 7-year chakra paradigm and whether the 7-year performances should be repeatedly reconceptualized by other artists?”
Linda: I think it’s in the culture anyway. I think that performance art has a way of infecting culture, and then reappearing. It’s already happening, and it’s happened. A lot of it is because the computer has squashed and trumped time, and is preparing us for robotization and intellectual piracy. These attempts of these interventionist artists to speak to, and hold on to time is really an Armageddon-like attempt to point towards a loss via the machine. Endurance is a response to the information age. Endurance is availability. Endurance is staying the course. Endurance gives us a taste of solidity that is being lost to floating avatarily in SECOND LIFE.

Beth: One more question from Roxi. “Your personal spiritual, and artistic vocabulary seems to be composed of a hybrid of mostly Catholic but also Indian influences, the guru, the chakras, etc. Can you comment on the significance of combining your own childhood religion with the language and practice of other cultures?”
Linda: It can only be a richer meal.

Beth: Anything else you would like to say?
Linda: Buy my archive so I can simplify. lindamontano@hotmail.com See it on You Tube. Its called “Archive for Sale.” I’m giving a finder’s fee for the best price.

Annie: Who would the ideal buyer be?
Linda: The Getty, NYU, Bard, An International Institute? See Part 4 of the video and find a place. Fast. Anywhere that the Archive can be used for research would be good. I’m really putting effort into putting my papers, books, videos and objects in order. I’m becoming an archivist. Does that mean I’m now a librarian? Not another persona, please! The best scenario is if somebody bought the Kingston “Art/Life Institute” and kept the archive there and used it as a study center, a performance center. That would be perfect!

Annie: I’d give anything to see that happen.
Beth: That’s really exciting.
Linda: ART LIVES!!!!!!!!!!

P.S.  THE ARCHIVE NOW LIVES AT  NEW YORK UNIVERSITY FALES LIBRARY. SEE IT THERE. THIS INTERVIEW WORKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!LINDA MARY MONTANO 3/4/14
We highly encourage you to contact Linda Mary Montano for Art/Life/Laughter Counseling. Or gather her unique wisdom from her three books: Art In Everyday Life, Performance Artists Speaking In the 80’s, Letters from Linda M. Montano. Invite her to do lectures, workshops, and performances in your city. Visit her web site at lindmontano.com. If you are interested in acquiring her amazing archive, contact her at lindamontano@hotmail.com. Buy it and donate it to NYU or find a rich uncle who needs a tax write off and let him buy it, then donate it to NYU. Your finder’s fee is a day tied to Linda with love.

Monday, March 3, 2014

7 MAGNIFICENT MOTHERS OF LINDA MARY MONTANO

 


 
7 MAGNIFICENT MOTHERS OF LINDA MARY MONTANO


1. MOTHER OF LIFE AND COURAGE:  MILDRED KELLY MONTANO,  My birth mother.

2. MOTHER OF UNUSUAL CREATIVITY:  MAGDALENA BECKER KELLY. My  grandmother.

3. MOTHER OF FREE ART: MOTHER MARY JANE ROBERTSHAW, OSU. My college art professor.

4. MOTHER OF CHARITABLE JOY: MOTHER MARY JOSEPH ROGERS. Founder of Maryknoll Sisters.

5. MOTHER OF EMBRACING COMPASSION: DOCTOR ARUNA MEHTA. My adopted    mother.

6. MOTHER OF NUMINOUS SIGHT: KATHLEEN DONNELLY  SU. My spiritual counselor.

7. MOTHER  OF UNITIVE BLISS: MARY, MOTHER OF US ALL.  My silent mother.


 

THE CHICKEN WHO LEARNED HOW TO FLY

THE CHICKEN WHO LEARNED HOW TO CRY
Once upon a time there was a very, very old chicken who was about to lay her last egg. She was that old.  One day while strolling around in the coop, dragging her stiff , right chicken leg, she flashbacked to a former wish and clucked, fumed, wattled her red puckered head topknot and announced to all, "I wish I could fly like other birds! I'm feeling so cooped up."
Her new friend, a jaunty. fluffy topped fun-filled henette answered with wing flutters and faux attempts at flights from her second story perch. She said, "Cheer up old hen, try this. Close your eyes, jump and honest to God it's the next best thing to flight!" "Bawk bawk ", said the old hen, "I've had too many disappointments and laid too many bad eggs. Your flying excitement is not contagious, my dear little fuzzy one. Besides here comes the boss and lights are soon out for the night. It's 7pm and time to roost."
Old arthritic hen climbed to the top perch where she could keep her beady eyes on everything and either warn the tribe if possums got under their fence or correct the young chicks if they stayed out too late. But because of her numb and cold right chicken leg, she fell, not fell but crashed to the ground after a dream about many particularly disturbing events. She surmised that she had been running while asleep to distance herself from the pain of life.
It was winter and a coma producing fog of ice, sleet, smog and a polar vortexed series of storms wrecked havoc with not only the outside world but with the coop itself. The detritus from the storm was everywhere, even inside the coop, and  her wings  had gotten twisted in the fall so hypothermia had just about set in and most of her chicken teeth which she called her chicklets, chattered; her beak turned a bright red and in an attempt to unfreeze herself from the snow-sludge-muck on the coop floor, she called out for her fluffy henette friend, "Henette, this is horrible! I'm miserable and have one thousand and 55 reasons to bawk, bawk about my life. This happened, that happened. Look at me now, I'm incapacitated and nearly frozen to death. Take my top perch if I die, OK? It's yours. I haven't made a will but I will scratch out my wishes in the dirt, right here."
The tough old bird then looked into the eyes of the fluffy henette and noticed that her friend had raised her wing to wipe her own tearing eyes. "Old hen, I'm crying for you. I want to help you. Listen. This is a big wonderful secret and today is the day I give it to you. Here it is." And the feathery henette gently scooped the old hen from the floor of the coop, flapped her wings so the warm air would dry off her old feathers, and even gave her 7 kernels of corn she had stashed in the back of the coop for her own afternoon snack.  Finally when all was settled and quiet and numinous, she whispered in the old hen's chicken ear her secret. She said, "OLD HEN, WHEN YOU LEARN HOW TO CRY, YOU WILL LEARN HOW TO FLY."
Never the end.

Linda Mary Montano 2014, Linwood Retreat

4 ASPECTS OF FORGIVENESS: PHYSICAL/EMOTIONAL/SOCIAL/COLLABORATIVE/SPIRITUAL


  •  
    FORGIVENESS 1: PHYSICAL ASPECT

    FORGIVENESS IS NOT THE SAME AS RECONCILIATION. FORGIVENESS IS INTERIOR. TO RECONCILE IS TO MEET WITH ANOTHER PERSON AND TALK ABOUT HEALING THE SITUATION/ SPEAK WORDS OF FORGIVENESS WITH EACH OTHER. SOMETIMES WE CAN ONLY FORGIVE AND THAT IS OFTEN ENOUGH IF WE CANT RECONCILE AS WELL.

    FORGIVENESS 2: EMOTIONAL ASPECT

    FORGIVENESS IS LETTING GO OF RESENTMENT. GOD PERMISTS EVIL SO  SHE MAY BRING ABOUT A GREATER GOOD. FROM THIS WE GROW IN GRACE. IF WE HAVE RESENTMENT WE HAVE NO GRACE.

    FORGIVENESS 3:  SOCIAL ASPECT

    FORGIVENESS  DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN FORGIVING AN INJUSTICE. FORGIVENESS SOMETIMES DEMANDS JUSTICE.  JUSTICE SOMETIMES MEANS CALLING  THE POLICE  OR HAVING THE LAW TAKE CARE OF OFFENDERS.

    FORGIVENESS 4:  COLLABORATIVE

    TO FORGIVE ANOTHER WE CAN PRAY FOR THEM. THAT WAY THE HIGHER POWER GETS TO DO THE WORK AND WE FEEL BETTER BECAUSE OUR COLLABORATOR HAS DONE THE FORGIVING! THIS IS VERY EFFECTIVE WHEN WE DONT WANT THE OTHER PERSON TO PROSPER IN ANY WAY. IT IS OUT OF OUR HANDS BUT THE INNER RESENTMENT IS GONE.

    FORGIVENESS 5: SPIRITUAL

    TO ERR IS HUMAN TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE. IT MUST BE MADE OBVIOUS THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGIVE WITH OUR OWN POWER. ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE AND PURIFY OUR MEMORIES.
     
    LINDA  MARY MONTANO 2014



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                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS 1: PHYSICAL ASPECT

                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS IS NOT THE SAME AS RECONCILIATION. FORGIVENESS IS INTERIOR. TO RECONCILE IS TO MEET WITH ANOTHER PERSON AND TALK ABOUT HEALING THE SITUATION/ SPEAK WORDS OF FORGIVENESS WITH EACH OTHER. SOMETIMES WE CAN ONLY FORGIVE AND THAT IS OFTEN ENOUGH IF WE CANT RECONCILE AS WELL.

                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS 2: EMOTIONAL ASPECT

                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS IS LETTING GO OF RESENTMENT. GOD PERMISTS EVIL SO  SHE MAY BRING ABOUT A GREATER GOOD. FROM THIS WE GROW IN GRACE. IF WE HAVE RESENTMENT WE HAVE NO GRACE.

                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS 3:  SOCIAL ASPECT

                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS  DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN FORGIVING AN INJUSTICE. FORGIVENESS SOMETIMES DEMANDS JUSTICE.  JUSTICE SOMETIMES MEANS CALLING  THE POLICE  OR HAVING THE LAW TAKE CARE OF OFFENDERS.

                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS 4:  COLLABORATIVE

                                                                                                                            TO FORGIVE ANOTHER WE CAN PRAY FOR THEM. THAT WAY THE HIGHER POWER GETS TO DO THE WORK AND WE FEEL BETTER BECAUSE OUR COLLABORATOR HAS DONE THE FORGIVING! THIS IS VERY EFFECTIVE WHEN WE DONT WANT THE OTHER PERSON TO PROSPER IN ANY WAY. IT IS OUT OF OUR HANDS BUT THE INNER RESENTMENT IS GONE.

                                                                                                                            FORGIVENESS 5: SPIRITUAL

                                                                                                                            TO ERR IS HUMAN TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE. IT MUST BE MADE OBVIOUS THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGIVE WITH OUR OWN POWER. ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE AND PURIFY OUR MEMORIES.
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                            LINDA  MARY MONTANO 2014