hide You are viewing an archived web page, collected at the request of New York University using Archive-It. This page was captured on 16:29:38 May 30, 2017, and is part of the Fales Library: Linda Montano collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF LINDA MARY MONTANO: 2015








THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF LINDA MARY MONTANO


PHASE 1: EARLY SPIRITUAL LIFE

When one is born into a traditional, established, well traveled religious tradition, it is a given that the children will follow their parents' practice. Usually without question. My father, a Zen-like Italian Catholic, reeked with devotional/mystical leanings and my mother, a converted to Catholicism former Episcopalian,  was the "questioner', the ironic one, the combater, the one who internally "winked" at me  when Catholic rules and regulations upset her wise common sense. I have them both inside me.
At 7, as a Catholic school student, I really drank the Kool Aid and stuffed all of my questions and the school/out of school abuses, into my subconscious, believing their teachings even Though they were medieval in their ignorance, medieval in their sin-theories, medieval in their impulse to spread fear and guilt on/in our little minds, bodies and hearts. Suffering was the banner we held high and in fact, I made a pact while kneeling in front of  the crucifixed Jesus hanging in our church one day and said, "Jesus, you are suffering so much. I want to be like you and the only way I know how to do that is to suffer. But I will suffer even more than you and be great, just like you. Jesus, help me to suffer." Real bright, no? The Resurrection and light and love did not go with the package and was never referred to, back in the 1940's.
My contract with stupidity began at this early age and later on became the foundational cornerstone of both my art and life, instructing me incorrectly to embrace penitential endurance, self-inflicted isolation rituals and actions that taxed my body and mind. I learned alot from that Crucifix and it has taken me 5 decades to unwind and unknot my farcical fascination with pain even though at night I was, at 9, experiencing "big, huge, gigantic" out of body sensations and time travel, neither of which could persuade me to trade guilt and fear for mystical pleasure. Suffering won out.

PHASE 2: THE CONVENT
At 19, unfixable PTSD and untreated trauma catapulted me into a Catholic convent of missionaries, a dream-land where we chanted, prayed talked only one hour a day, ate all meals in silence and lived like movie-star nuns. That is, we dressed like nuns and acted like holy nuns you would see in movies back then. Memories of my being a rodent in one of our Christmas plays stays with me and when I left with unexplored and unexpressed emotional illness, 80 pounds at best, my novice mistress said to me, "Sister Rose, leave and go be an actress!" But how did she get to stay since she walked, talked and looked exactly like Katherine Hepburn and had that throaty, sexy gravel voice, more like an international Marlena-beauty.
 It was hard leaving, life was easy, simple, meals were on time and three times a day, duties determined by others, no isurance to pay or light bulbs to change, no furnaces to upgrade or dishwashers to empty, no men to flirt with or weekend dates to plan, no cars to drive or vehicle oil changes to keep track of, no children to feed or toilets to clean. But we did have  a schedule:
*sleep in the same dorm room
*no walls, just curtains surrounding the beds
*silence 23 hours a day
*silent meals with 8 at a table
*all dishes washed with soapy water and rinsed AT TABLE
*lives of the saints read at  all meals
*once a week penance service for breaking "rules" (talking, looking at another nun's face, walking too fast etc)
*Mass at  5am, then prayer, breakfast, school, work(could be toilets or kitchen )
*lunch, rest, work, class, supper, one hour "recreation" (sitting and sewing/medning our habits, another name for clothes we wore)
*wearing 4 layers of "clothes" including girdle, mens boxer shorts, heavy-heavy stockings, a dress that was a slip, another "dress'", a tunic and veil plus a bra!
*all letters were read by our superiors: the ones we wrote and the ones we received
*mail once a moth if I remember correctly
But funny thing is, I LOVED IT!  The rhythm and prayer and ease and am looking for a way to approximate that life now as I enter my 7th decade.
What I took away from that experience was a love of simple order and an understanding of simple human justice and a concern for compassion vs greed and a frugality that helped me understand the poor and the incarcerated and the misunderstood. The convent gave me eyes to see not just my pain but that of others.
Take me God, take me back to the nunnery?

PHASE 3: ART AS RELIGION
I left the covent bonkers. Instituionable. But in small town Saugerties, there was nobody to point me in the direction of help except for the family doctor who said to my mother, "Mill if she want's to go back to college, let her go." How wise he was! Dr McCaigh, thank you. And I will never know if Dad bribed them to take me back. I sensed that he did.
So back to the College of New Rochelle I went, having had one year there before the convent. But this time I found a new life via a nun-ally  who opened the door to the sculpture room and gave me a key to wellness----ART!  Art became my medicine, my religion, my best friend, my veicle to finding ecstasy outside the House of Suffering inside my heart.
 I will always thank Mother Mary Jane Robertshaw for  generously sharing her love of creating beauty and truth. In fact, we both attended the plaque celebration together a few years ago at CNR; the $250 plaque in front of the new wellness center said: THANK YOU MOTHER MARY JANE ROBERSHAW: ARTIST-TEACHER-FRIEND. It was from me.

PHASE 4: YOGA

After 28 years of dumbing down my psyche with Catholic guilt, the introduction to spiritual pleasure happened via my studies of Yoga and Hindu theology. Their chakra and inner light miracles have fueled and informed my spiritual life to this day. That is, eventhough I had embraced the religion of art after the convent, I was still confused and hurting. Doctor Ramamurti Mishra's Ashram was a haven and retreat center and place where I learned about/practiced the Chakras and like the convent, a place to pray but in Yogic and Hindu ecstasy and celebration, with arms wide open and clothing perfumed with Rose oil! Meditating with him and his students and watching him dissolve his body into light, right in front of my eyes, and being under his guidance and open-armed acceptance of my personality and gifts and weaknesses, was a gift that I will thank him for, forever. Like all students of great teachers, I thought that he saw only me but he "saw" everyone equally and with such DIVINE love, that our obscurations were burned in the furnace of his magnaminous heart. I publically and eternally applaud your mission on this earth and in the earthless blue sky, my teacher. Never forget me, Guruji. And as one of your Sunyasin ( Hindu priest), I remain Padmavati & Chinmayananda. May I finally grow INTO the names you gave me. May I make you proud.
 
PHASE 5: ZEN
Although Guruji was my main teacher, I lived two years in a Zen community in upstate NY, following strict and sitting up straight and no nonsence Buddhist traditions. Living on the top of a hill-mountain in an A frame without water or heat or toilet, in the coldest winter yet, 1980, 1981, 1982 was a perfect scenario for my pain-pleasure psyche. It was Catholic enough (the cold) and ecstatic enough ( 8 hours of meditation a day.) Daido Loori and Maezumi Roshi of LA were my teachers during this chapter of my spiritual explorations and I was ready to stay, become a Roshi-ette but got way-laid when i saw a photo of a Taiwan artist, Tehching Hsieh on  a poster in NYC. He was looking for someone to be tied to for a year. I was looking for art to be as intense and strong and "enlightening" as sitting 8 hours a day, in silence.  I wince to look back and discern this decision...did I do the right thing? If I didn't then I cant even let myself imagine walking around the Zen Mountain Monastery meditation room, right now, today,  in robes and giving dharma talks. It wont happen, but instead, now I do go into galleries and bless people as Mother Theresa, so I guess everything's ok?  I did right, right? Thankfully, Karate lessons with Lester Ingber and Hisashi Omichi have given me the gifts of solid ground and strength to be HERE and I know that my high Green Belt, keeps me strong in this walk, no matter what direction it takes, thanks to these two kind/wise warriors.
 
PHASE 6: KALU RIMPOCHE
Meeting Kalu Rimpoche intensified the journey.  I was a shopper, a spiritual materialist, a spiritual mall-goer. So when a great Lama or teacher came to town, I was there!  Front row, center. But I was pulled to this particular teacher because I had literally drawn Kalu Rimpoche when I was a teen-ager. I drew him on paper with a pencil. That is, my mother, an artist, had a book titled HOW TO DRAW HEADS and I chose, at 13, to draw, "CHINESE MAN." When I first saw Kalu Rimpoche at the Tibetan Monastery, I knew that I knew him, had "drawn" him into my life. Or he drew me? This pre-cognition is nothing new in Tibetan culture and I had read enough literature about pre-knowledge and past lives to understand that I was probably correct , that we did know each other. As a result, I was cemented to him, saw his "double" many times on the streets of NY, a double who looked at me and smiled. Taking refuge from him, I was "baptized' into Tibetan Buddhism and  went to all of his teachings. One magical and wonderful day I met him for a personal/private interview in a small room at KTD. Of course he was not alone but surrounded by body guards and holy handlers who paced back and forth behind him, acting as indicators of his high spiritual status. Their seriousness didn't keep me from blubbery-crying, that ugly, snotty crying which included falling over from a sitting position in a wet mess and at the same time feeling a fierce and burning fire consuming  my body .....a fire he won for himself and shared with others, a fire that happened because of his penances performed for 13 years during his retreat in a light-tight cave in Tibet! He allowed maybe 3 minutes of  what seemed to be a healing of my obscurations and neuroses via fire and tears and then to stop it, he held up in his skinny, bony, hand a crystal-like object that I fixated on and got distracted by because it was bigger than my tears. That was his blessing to me, a blessing later interpreted years later by a Lama who said that he gave me a special light-infusion. I'll take that!  After his death, his re-incarnated teenaged self, magically decapitated or re-arranged his head while swinging in a park-swing in Wappingers Falls. I was there, right in front of the swing and I watched him accidentally fall backwards while still sitting on the swing and  so help me God, I saw his head do something very strange. Thank God I was in the business of seeing this as a "teaching" FOR ME in front of my disbelieving and shocked eyes. This story is too complicated to sort out here but I can demo it for you, the reader, over tea.
While we are in the Tibetan phase of my spiritual life, I will tell you the 16th Karmapa story which is also very interesting. Lama Barry Bryant brought the Karmapa to meet with my father to look at property my father owned on the Hudson. As he left, the Karmapa who was 4 inches from my face, said to my father, "Your daughter is a Tibetan Buddhist!"  Is that true? Am I really a Buddhist, a Catholic a Zen practitioner, a Sunyasin? Or did he want a deal on the waterfront property, thinking my father would love this proclamation of my inner spiritual prowess? And if it IS true that I am a Tibetan Buddhist and not just a collector of spiritual highs, then why am I sitting in an upstate NY library writing this and not attending teachings on CHUD at our local Tibetan Monastery?  Hmmmmm.
 
PHASE 7: DOCTOR A.L.MEHTA AND DOCTOR ARUNA MEHTA
At Dr. Mishra's ashram in Monroe NY, Ananda Ashram, I met these two teachers of Karma & Bhakti Yoga, the Mehtas. They had both practiced Ayruvedic medicine in India and were paragons of seva, selfless service, and endless/tolerant love. Again, a recognition happened and we co-adopted each other, so for 19 years they demonstrated with and for me the art of their practices by making them visible, tangible and real. My trip to India with Mrs. Mehta which made it possible for me to document the burning ghats & nursing homes in Benares, happened during this time and I always have gratitude to her sweet/dignified  GRACE.
 Both of them emanated Hindu/Guru/authentic warmth and shared that with me and all they met via food, teachings, mantra reciting and inclusion in their Jain ceremonies. It was everyday love. I acted as if I belonged to them  and never left their side. I couldn't. This gift of being with them was about day-to-day love and experiencing  right brain joy not just as a concept or while sitting in meditation but practicing love in the here and now, when it was easy and not easy. It was about LOYAL LOVE. It is not over, our love, even though they have left their physical bodies. They taught me to do  Seva (free service to all). They were masters at it.  One example of the largess of their generosity happened in the 1940's when they sold all of Mrs. Mehta's jewelry to feed, clothe and shelter fleeing Hindus from Pakistan during the Partition. They were always feeding everyone both here and in India and Mrs. Mehta delivered 2000 babies via bullock-cart roads in villages of India, often without pay. The list goes on. I have big shoes to fill and bigger love to imitate..
 
PHASE 8: CATHOLICISM
Two major life events resulted in my returning full circle to the religion of my youth, Roman Catholicism.  The first: I was teaching full-time in a university and my students were wild and wooly, just like me! Needing the grounding of  morals, ethics and propriety, plus needing to learn how to obey rules and regulations so that I could inform my teaching and direct them, I began attending the Catholic Newman Center at the university and noticed that ,"This brand of Catholic isn't so bad!"  And then, around the same time there was a second life event: I became the caregiver for my dying father. His Catholicness/holiness permeated the house where we took care of him. So it is not surprising that his version of how to be sacred colored my deep feelings around his impending death.  Plus I kept his favorite Catholic EWTN Catholic TV channel on 24-7 and that was seeping into my questioning and arid brain. All of the above catapulted me backwards in time to his religion, so back to the church I went, kicking and screaming, dragging my uninformed and guilty inner child along with me. Admittedly the church was changing a bit but oh, what work it is to undo the old time religion in my heart and become a thinking, asking, intelligent, transparent, informed, questioning, curious, mystical Roman Catholic! Making films about exorcism and one about me being the first or second woman Pope and one about Theresa of Avila and performing as Mother Theresa has helped but still, I literally have to force my inner child to morning mass with me everyday.
Signs are always magical and wonderful and welcomed and I received two inner voices, called locutions in church language, during this process;  one from Mary at Medjegore who said, "I will be your Mother  when Mrs. Mehta dies," and one from Jesus who said to me at the Montreal Cathedral when I touched his wood-statue feet, " I am now your GURU!!!!! I'm waiting to hear if I should/could/must become a WOMANPRIEST and do this as a "call" and not a greedy wanting for more titles and unnecessary jobs.
 
PHASE 9: NATURE
" Our first teacher is our own heart. "            

Cheyenne Indian Proverb
 
LINDA MARY MONTANO: JULY 2015





THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF LINDA MARY MONTANO


PHASE 1: EARLY SPIRITUAL LIFE

When one is born into a traditional, established, well traveled religious tradition, it is a given that the children will follow their parents' practice. Usually without question. My father, a Zen-like Italian Catholic, reeked with devotional/mystical leanings and my mother, a converted to Catholicism former Episcopalian,  was the "questioner', the ironic one, the combater, the one who internally "winked" at me  when Catholic rules and regulations upset her wise common sense. I have them both inside me.
At 7, as a Catholic school student, I really drank the Kool Aid and stuffed all of my questions and the school/out of school abuses, into my subconscious, believing their teachings eventhough they were medievial in their ignorance, medieval in their sin-theories, medieval in their impulse to spread fear and guilt on/in our little minds, bodies and hearts. Suffering was the banner we held high and in fact, I made a pact while kneeling in front of  the crucifixed Jesus hanging in our church one day and said, "Jesus, you are suffering so much. I want to be like you and the only way I know how to do that is to suffer. But I will suffer even more than you and be great, just like you. Jesus, help me to suffer." Real bright, no? The Resurrection and light and love did not go with the package and was never refered to, back in the 1940's.
My contract with stupidity began at this early age and later on became the foundational cornerstone of both my art and life, instructing me incorrectly to embrace penitential endurance, self-inflicted isolation rituals and actions that taxed my body and mind. I learned alot from that Crucifix and it has taken me 5 decades to unwind and unknot my farcical fascination with pain eventhough at night I was, at 9, experiencing "big, huge, gigantic" out of body sensations and time travel, neither of which could persuade me to trade guilt and fear for mystical pleasure. Suffering won out.

PHASE 2: THE CONVENT
At 19, unfixable PTSD and untreated trauma catapulted me into a Catholic convent of missionaries, a dream-land where we chanted, prayed talked only one hour a day, ate all meals in silence and lived like movie-star nuns. That is, we dressed like nuns and acted like holy nuns you would see in movies back then. Memories of my being a rodent in one of our Christmas plays stays with me and when I left with unexplored and unexpressed emotional illness, 80 pounds at best, my novice mistress said to me, "Sister Rose, leave and go be an actress!" But how did she get to stay since she walked, talked and looked exactly like Katherine Hepburn and had that throaty, sexy gravel voice, more like an international Marlena-beauty.
 It was hard leaving, life was easy, simple, meals were on time and three times a day, duties determined by others, no isurance to pay or light bulbs to change, no furnaces to upgrade or dishwashers to empty, no men to flirt with or weekend dates to plan, no cars to drive or vehicle oil changes to keep track of, no children to feed or toilets to clean. But we did have  a schedule:
*sleep in the same dorm room
*no walls, just curtains surrounding the beds
*silence 23 hours a day
*silent meals with 8 at a table
*all dishes washed with soapy water and rinsed AT TABLE
*lives of the saints read at  all meals
*once a week penance service for breaking "rules" (talking, looking at another nun's face, walking too fast etc)
*Mass at  5am, then prayer, breakfast, school, work(could be toilets or kitchen )
*lunch, rest, work, class, supper, one hour "recreation" (sitting and sewing/medning our habits, another name for clothes we wore)
*wearing 4 layers of "clothes" including girdle, mens boxer shorts, heavy-heavy stockings, a dress that was a slip, another "dress'", a tunic and veil plus a bra!
*all letters were read by our superiors: the ones we wrote and the ones we received
*mail once a moth if I remember correctly
But funny thing is, I LOVED IT!  The rhythm and prayer and ease and am looking for a way to approximate that life now as I enter my 7th decade.
What I took away from that experience was a love of simple order and an understanding of simple human justice and a concern for compassion vs greed and a frugality that helped me understand the poor and the incarcerated and the misunderstood. The convent gave me eyes to see not just my pain but that of others.
Take me God, take me back to the nunnery?

PHASE 3: ART AS RELIGION
I left the covent bonkers. Instituionable. But in small town Saugerties, there was nobody to point me in the direction of help except for the family doctor who said to my mother, "Mill if she want's to go back to college, let her go." How wise he was! Dr McCaigh, thank you. And I will never know if Dad bribed them to take me back. I sensed that he did.
So back to the College of New Rochelle I went, having had one year there before the convent. But this time I found a new life via a nun-ally  who opened the door to the sculpture room and gave me a key to wellness----ART!  Art became my medicine, my religion, my best friend, my veicle to finding ecstasy outside the House of Suffering inside my heart.
 I will always thank Mother Mary Jane Robertshaw for  generously sharing her love of creating beauty and truth. In fact, we both attended the plaque celebration together a few years ago at CNR; the $250 plaque in front of the new wellness center said: THANK YOU MOTHER MARY JANE ROBERSHAW: ARTIST-TEACHER-FRIEND. It was from me.

PHASE 4: YOGA

After 28 years of dumbing down my psyche with Catholic guilt, the introduction to spiritual pleasure happened via my studies of Yoga and Hindu theology. Their chakra and inner light miracles have fueled and informed my spiritual life to this day. That is, eventhough I had embraced the religion of art after the convent, I was still confused and hurting. Doctor Ramamurti Mishra's Ashram was a haven and retreat center and place where I learned about/practiced the Chakras and like the convent, a place to pray but in Yogic and Hindu ecstasy and celebration, with arms wide open and clothing perfumed with Rose oil! Meditating with him and his students and watching him dissolve his body into light, right in front of my eyes, and being under his guidance and open-armed acceptance of my personality and gifts and weaknesses, was a gift that I will thank him for, forever. Like all students of great teachers, I thought that he saw only me but he "saw" everyone equally and with such DIVINE love, that our obscurations were burned in the furnace of his magnaminous heart. I publically and eternally applaud your mission on this earth and in the earthless blue sky, my teacher. Never forget me, Guruji. And as one of your Sunyasin ( Hindu priest), I remain Padmavati & Chinmayananda. May I finally grow INTO the names you gave me. May I make you proud.
 
PHASE 5: ZEN
Although Guruji was my main teacher, I lived two years in a Zen community in upstate NY, following strict and sitting up straight and no nonsence Buddhist traditions. Living on the top of a hill-mountain in an A frame without water or heat or toilet, in the coldest winter yet, 1980, 1981, 1982 was a perfect scenario for my pain-pleasure psyche. It was Catholic enough (the cold) and ecstatic enough ( 8 hours of meditation a day.) Daido Loori and Maezumi Roshi of LA were my teachers during this chapter of my spiritual explorations and I was ready to stay, become a Roshi-ette but got way-laid when i saw a photo of a Taiwan artist, Tehching Hsieh on  a poster in NYC. He was looking for someone to be tied to for a year. I was looking for art to be as intense and strong and "enlightening" as sitting 8 hours a day, in silence.  I wince to look back and discern this decision...did I do the right thing? If I didn't then I cant even let myself imagine walking around the Zen Mountain Monastery meditation room, right now, today,  in robes and giving dharma talks. It wont happen, but instead, now I do go into galleries and bless people as Mother Theresa, so I guess everything's ok?  I did right, right? Thankfully, Karate lessons with Lester Ingber and Hisashi Omichi have given me the gifts of solid ground and strength to be HERE and I know that my high Green Belt, keeps me strong in this walk, no matter what direction it takes, thanks to these two kind/wise warriors.
 
PHASE 6: KALU RIMPOCHE
Meeting Kalu Rimpoche intensified the journey.  I was a shopper, a spiritual materialist, a spiritual mall-goer. So when a great Lama or teacher came to town, I was there!  Front row, center. But I was pulled to this particular teacher because I had literally drawn Kalu Rimpoche when I was a teen-ager. I drew him on paper with a pencil. That is, my mother, an artist, had a book titled HOW TO DRAW HEADS and I chose, at 13, to draw, "CHINESE MAN." When I first saw Kalu Rimpoche at the Tibetan Monastery, I knew that I knew him, had "drawn" him into my life. Or he drew me? This pre-cognition is nothing new in Tibetan culture and I had read enough literature about pre-knowledge and past lives to understand that I was probably correct , that we did know each other. As a result, I was cemented to him, saw his "double" many times on the streets of NY, a double who looked at me and smiled. Taking refuge from him, I was "baptized' into Tibetan Buddhism and  went to all of his teachings. One magical and wonderful day I met him for a personal/private interview in a small room at KTD. Of course he was not alone but surrounded by body guards and holy handlers who paced back and forth behind him, acting as indicators of his high spiritual status. Their seriousness didn't keep me from blubbery-crying, that ugly, snotty crying which included falling over from a sitting position in a wet mess and at the same time feeling a fierce and burning fire consuming  my body .....a fire he won for himself and shared with others, a fire that happened because of his penances performed for 13 years during his retreat in a light-tight cave in Tibet! He allowed maybe 3 minutes of  what seemed to be a healing of my obscurations and neuroses via fire and tears and then to stop it, he held up in his skinny, bony, hand a crystal-like object that I fixated on and got distracted by because it was bigger than my tears. That was his blessing to me, a blessing later interpreted years later by a Lama who said that he gave me a special light-infusion. I'll take that!  After his death, his re-incarnated teenaged self, magically decapitated or re-arranged his head while swinging in a park-swing in Wappingers Falls. I was there, right in front of the swing and I watched him accidentally fall backwards while still sitting on the swing and  so help me God, I saw his head do something very strange. Thank God I was in the business of seeing this as a "teaching" FOR ME in front of my disbelieving and shocked eyes. This story is too complicated to sort out here but I can demo it for you, the reader, over tea.
While we are in the Tibetan phase of my spiritual life, I will tell you the 16th Karmapa story which is also very interesting. Lama Barry Bryant brought the Karmapa to meet with my father to look at property my father owned on the Hudson. As he left, the Karmapa who was 4 inches from my face, said to my father, "Your daughter is a Tibetan Buddhist!"  Is that true? Am I really a Buddhist, a Catholic a Zen practitioner, a Sunyasin? Or did he want a deal on the waterfront property, thinking my father would love this proclamation of my inner spiritual prowess? And if it IS true that I am a Tibetan Buddhist and not just a collector of spiritual highs, then why am I sitting in an upstate NY library writing this and not attending teachings on CHUD at our local Tibetan Monastery?  Hmmmmm.
 
PHASE 7: DOCTOR A.L.MEHTA AND DOCTOR ARUNA MEHTA
At Dr. Mishra's ashram in Monroe NY, Ananda Ashram, I met these two teachers of Karma & Bhakti Yoga, the Mehtas. They had both practiced Ayruvedic medicine in India and were paragons of seva, selfless service, and endless/tolerant love. Again, a recognition happened and we co-adopted each other, so for 19 years they demonstrated with and for me the art of their practices by making them visible, tangible and real. My trip to India with Mrs. Mehta which made it possible for me to document the burning ghats & nursing homes in Benares, happened during this time and I always have gratitude to her sweet/dignified  GRACE.
 Both of them emanated Hindu/Guru/authentic warmth and shared that with me and all they met via food, teachings, mantra reciting and inclusion in their Jain ceremonies. It was everyday love. I acted as if I belonged to them  and never left their side. I couldn't. This gift of being with them was about day-to-day love and experiencing  right brain joy not just as a concept or while sitting in meditation but practicing love in the here and now, when it was easy and not easy. It was about LOYAL LOVE. It is not over, our love, even though they have left their physical bodies. They taught me to do  Seva (free service to all). They were masters at it.  One example of the largess of their generosity happened in the 1940's when they sold all of Mrs. Mehta's jewelry to feed, clothe and shelter fleeing Hindus from Pakistan during the Partition. They were always feeding everyone both here and in India and Mrs. Mehta delivered 2000 babies via bullock-cart roads in villages of India, often without pay. The list goes on. I have big shoes to fill and bigger love to imitate..
 
PHASE 8: CATHOLICISM
Two major life events resulted in my returning full circle to the religion of my youth, Roman Catholicism.  The first: I was teaching full-time in a university and my students were wild and wooly, just like me! Needing the grounding of  morals, ethics and propriety, plus needing to learn how to obey rules and regulations so that I could inform my teaching and direct them, I began attending the Catholic Newman Center at the university and noticed that ,"This brand of Catholic isn't so bad!"  And then, around the same time there was a second life event: I became the caregiver for my dying father. His Catholicness/holiness permeated the house where we took care of him. So it is not surprising that his version of how to be sacred colored my deep feelings around his impending death.  Plus I kept his favorite Catholic EWTN Catholic TV channel on 24-7 and that was seeping into my questioning and arid brain. All of the above catapulted me backwards in time to his religion, so back to the church I went, kicking and screaming, dragging my uninformed and guilty inner child along with me. Admittedly the church was changing a bit but oh, what work it is to undo the old time religion in my heart and become a thinking, asking, intelligent, transparent, informed, questioning, curious, mystical Roman Catholic! Making films about exorcism and one about me being the first or second woman Pope and one about Theresa of Avila and performing as Mother Theresa has helped but still, I literally have to force my inner child to morning mass with me everyday.
Signs are always magical and wonderful and welcomed and I received two inner voices, called locutions in church language, during this process;  one from Mary at Medjegore who said, "I will be your Mother  when Mrs. Mehta dies," and one from Jesus who said to me at the Montreal Cathedral when I touched his wood-statue feet, " I am now your GURU!!!!! I'm waiting to hear if I should/could/must become a WOMANPRIEST and do this as a "call" and not a greedy wanting for more titles and unnecessary jobs.
 
PHASE 9: NATURE
" Our first teacher is our own heart. "            

Cheyenne Indian Proverb
 

NATALIA BARR FROM NYU PAPER FROM FALES ARCHIVE LAUNCH

Panel discusses works of Linda Montano

Hark Kanwal
Linda Montana puts on a performance art piece with music in the background, a baby bottle, and multiple facial expressions to make the crowd laugh.
Natalia Barr , Staff Writer
The panel discussion and performance “Linda Mary Montano: Living Art/Living Life” explored and celebrated a lifetime of art on April 14. NYU’s Fales Library commended Montano, a contemporary feminist performance artist, by opening her archives in the library. Panelists included Kathy Brew, Karen Finley and Linda Weintraub.
Montano has sought to dissolve the boundaries between art and life since the mid-1960s. One of her most notable works was “Handcuff,” a project in which she was physically tied to artist Tom Marioni for three days. The artist collaborated with Marioni again in “Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performance” when the two were bound to each other by rope for an entire year. Montano also began “Seven Years of Living Art,” a performance based on the Chakras, in which she spent each year wearing a single color of clothing and spending part of each day in a colored room listening to a designated tone.
“It’s called alchemy,” Montano said. “You take two inert substances that aren’t making any sense, and you put them together, and you create gold.”
Emily King, a graduate fellow at Fales, compiled over 150 boxes of materials that represent 50 years of work into the newly completed archive.
“A lot of artists say that their art is separate from their life,” King said. “For Linda, I think something that makes it really meaningful is that there isn’t that separation and that a lot of times really meaningful art comes out of life experiences.”
While much of the attention in performance art has been and still is placed on male performers, King believes that the authenticity of Montano’s art draws people to the artist and her works.
“It really comes from a place that’s inward,” King said. “It gives another side of the story of women doing everything that a male performer can do and even more than that because they have the power and flexibility to push the envelope further.”
During the panel discussion, curator, artist, educator and author Linda Weintraub focused on “Dad Art,” a performance Montano gave after the death of her father. Weintraub emphasized how Montano’s time as primary caregiver for her father at the end of his life influenced her art.
“He wasn’t only a dad,” Weintraub said. “He was the subject of her art, the muse, the inspiration.”
Montano spoke of her training in San Francisco, a city that she believes is less patriarchal than those on the East Coast.
“The woman’s building was all really rock and roll and heavy duty,” said Montano, “We can have babies but we can also really change consciousness. Let’s change consciousness. Let’s meet once a month and change each other.”
The archive, which reflects the Montano’s lifetime efforts of creating art, will now be preserved at NYU’s Fales Library.
“Emily King has taken my whole life and has created a means of transportation through 50 years of my process in such a loving, careful, and diligent way,” Montano said, “I never had children and my art is my child. Emily King has been a doula, caregiver, and second mother in adopting my art as her child too.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 20 print edition. Email Natalia Barr at features@nyunews.com.
Print Friendly




DEATH IN MY ART......MITCHELL'S DEATH, BENARES, DEATH IN THE ART/LIFE OF LINDA MARY MONTANO, DAD ART, NOW

DEATH IN MY ART






                                              
               
                    


 DEATH IN MY ART/LIFE:LINDA MARY MONTANO, SAUGERTIES NY 2015


1. MITCHELL'S DEATH
Art is my medicine and antidote to my pain. Little did I know that my early LYING IN CHICKEN BED performances were really death practices and chances to feel as  if dead although  I rationalized the performance and said that I was practicing meditation and not being on view to rescue the love and attention I needed in life but could only receive in faux death.
The DEAD CHICKEN/LIVE ANGEL (LYING IN CHICKEN BED) performances lasted for years and although I thought that I was dead to life and love, the first real death that visited my art/life was the murder of my ex-husband Mitchell Payne. It was an unspeakable event and I wrote, refused/was unable to speak , chanted the writing at a memorial service at UCSD, sing-songing grief and imitating the Zen training I was receiving at  the time. My slow, sonorous,  Gregorianesque and Asian-like sonic recall of the trauma was relieved by a still video image of my close-up face stuck with acupuncture needles. The only way I could share my pain was to become pain.

2. BENARES
My study of Hindu theology and culture became the impetus for my second video on death, BENARES.  I was teaching at  UT,Austin and received a grant to go East  to document Hindu nursing homes and the burning ghats. Death, so secret, so hidden, so plastic, so covered, so conservatively hidden in America, had made me curious about the ways that the truth is shared so openly, honestly, transparently and publically in India. India, the country of extremes , allowed and encouraged me to boat down the Ganges and pass the floating corpse of a woman with one breast missing, and a few minutes later, there.... a floating infant. Face up, beautiful in it's bloatedness.  Hers? Or were they just passing in the sacred waters as if related?
India said, it's ok to look, to see, to stare, to observe, for we are all nothing and everything and there are so many of us and we are surviving/living and then dying. No taboos here like in your country. Come and watch the bodies being carried through the streets, covered by a clean, shining saffron cloth. Come and chant NAM RAM SATYA HAI with us. We won't stop you . Come and watch us burn dead bodies and more bodies and more bodies freed into MOKSHA, liberation, because they have died in our best city, BENARES, the city of final enlightenment. For to die here is to win the big prize...... never to return, never to reincarnate! No problem. No coming back.
My experience in Benares was like graduate school for the  death phobic/curious. Graduate school for the infantilized Catholic nice girl, coddled into inauthenticity, graduate school for the neurotic wanting to die but couching it in an inordinate interest in death!

3. DEATH IN THE ART/LIFE OF LINDA MARY MONTANO
At around the same time, I wrote a "scholarly" anthropological paper that researched death customs in over a dozen  different cultures, surprised that their rituals and mourning practices echoed some of my past performances. But then again, ritual minds think alike!
Writing and adding photos to my lecture (almost pre-computer) became my still fear of death remedy of choice and I presented this "lecture" which helped me understand impermanence as I accompanied my mother who endured as life, not art, radiation burns, chemo and a Halloweenesque torture in an AMA hospital.
In 2014, video editor, Tobe Carey and I translated the written lecture into text-film and it is now titled: LIVING ART/DYING ART. I perform as an angel who blesses audience members while showing this film, so that it becomes a relationship, an interactive/communal understanding of life's greatest mystery, death. We need shoulders to lean on and shiva/others to sit with. Food and talking ...... optional.

4. DAD ART
From 1998-2004, I took care of my father in upstate NY. We began making a video together before he was unjustly and carelessly injured in PT and sustained a hemorrhagic stroke. After that I was left holding the camera and I hid behind it for safety, for comfort, for relief, filming his eating, assisted walking, pill taking, his daily one hour abstract expressionistic drawings, his last breath. This film is life and personal and secret and not art and I only share it when I am present to perform/sing 7 of my parents favorite songs from the 30's & 40's. DAD ART is a video functioning as mourning and not an art commodity. Some things we just cant buy or give away.

5. NOW
I might not make art of my death. I might just die. I wonder if anyone-human will be there to film?

 

IMPERMANENCE, SUFFERING AND AN ANTIDOTE.............OLD AGE, SICKNESS, DEATH AND NON-GRASPING VIA ART AND FAIRYTALE




IMPERMANENCE/SUFFERING AND AN ANTIDOTE: 4 WORKSHOPS 

The Buddha said it all...we live, get old, maybe sick and eventually we all die. While doing so, we take our life and our impermanence very seriously, suffering when we suffer and wanting none of the complications. When it is good, we want that to stay. When bad, we run and hide. This is technically called clinging, greed, attachment. All bad. All cosmic migraines.

As artists, we are given a clean and clear art-slate, empty of the words, feelings and opinions of others.......waiting for our genius to explain/explore our unique journey. As I aged, I began "getting" the Buddha and said, "Yes, I'm getting old, sick and can see death!" And good life-artist that I am, I made art/performances/videos about what is happening to me, literally, as I speak. 

This 4 minute, 4 day, 4 hour, 4 week, 4 month or 4 year workshop is a sharing of my process and invitation to others to play-life, play-impermanence, play- solution with me, as art. It is designed to be a quickie or a long term workshop-process, whatever is applicable to the site. There are 4 PHASES;


PHASE 1: OLD AGE:  One of the bug-a-boos of old age is the nursing home....a place that we fear, shun, don't want to visit or be in. A place we can smell without visiting! My thesis is, if I do it to myself, if I place myself in a fake nursing home , now, I can  deflect the trauma and also REHEARSE for the time I might have to go in one. If I play-act nursing home, then it will drain the event of its poison.
In this first workshop, we will watch my video, NURSE, NURSE   https://youtu.be/EctbZtb79_k and then in a safe community of co-performers, we will experience the mental and physical actions/states of mind of someone in a nursing home. For example, being fed, being washed, being walked etc. We will do those things  for each other, exchanging roles. GIVING/RECEIVING.  In this cauldron of woken up triggers, we will take care of each other, process feelings and write so that the information can be helpful and not trauma-causing. All four workshops will be carefully tended this way. Therapeutic touch, here we come!!!!!!!!
  We will not only perform actions but also will be making nursing home sounds and pleadings and coughs and  yells and calls to those walking down the "outside halls"; and we will be making wails of wanting and  desperation and regret. We will rehearse and practice being  un-masked, un-muted and heard so that a new courage can be born from the experience of our played out vulnerability. Practice makes perfect.

What would the Buddha say about old age? It is the attachment to the way things were; the firm muscles and un-cellulited thighs that creates suffering. Mourning the body's betrayal of itself via art, is a technique that the Buddha would approve of, I'm sure


PHASE TWO: SICKNESS: Sometimes we catch it...an illness that is,  and get sick.  Some people never do. For me, my life events are matter for my art......So when I "caught" cervical dystonia/torticollis, I went to the drawing board and made art, a video titled, DYSTONIA, like I always do when I don't know how to talk about what is happening, when I don't know how to feel.   https://youtu.be/lj9OlegCsBc My neurologist who gives me the botox shots in my neck every three months, collaborated by letting his assistant film the process. My Yoga teacher's home-schooled son, Jonathon, read the pain "story"in this video. It is a fable which softens the horror of having a neurological chronic disease! Art is medicine and a way to distance from the clinging to the  perfection of a body that never lies!

PHASE THREE: DEATH: Death, the last taboo. Our last performance. For a boomer westerner, death has always been an antiseptic and non-transparent muffling of the real. My husband was murdered, my mother faux-murdered by the AMA's radiation burns to her entire inner-abdomen, Jesus died on the cross, Dad was injured by an incompetent PT who caused him to have a hemorrhagic stroke which he wobbled around with for 3 final years! I couldn't escape the Grim Reaper and didn't understand how to be or feel about him/her. In 1978, I made a video of my reaction to MITCHELL'S DEATH, in 1997 I went to Benares and recorded the burning ghats.     https://youtu.be/2vG10Mgtcwkin     In 1997 I wrote a paper for a lecture that eventually became a video  titled LIVING ART, DYING ART. I was always obsessed with death and thought of it as a metaphor for my unresolved emotional unhappiness, my wanting to die, my need to bow out.  Making art about death instead of Steven Kinging myself via a tragic and bloody endgame, has kept me quite busy.

In this workshop, we will explore the real aspects of dying; living wills, power of attorney, green burials. But more importantly, each participant will write an obituary and lay in state, on view, in a self-designed way and with visual accoutrements that are conversant with their need, style, safety. Would that be fake silk flowers or butterfly wings? The obituary, which can be read to the person lying-in-state by another workshop participant or recorded on iPhone,  can either ditto the life of the participant and be an actual "read" or the obituary can be a big lie and have total non-credibility but be healing in it's transformative illusion. That is, it can match their life, as-is, or it can be a look at their life as-they-would-like-it-to-have-been. Basically, an art-lie lifts the truth to a better and higher truth.
Again, the Buddha applauds flowery visualization and stretchings of the truth, I'm sure.

PHASE FOUR: AN ANTIDOTE:  The Buddha talks about clinging, and the mind as a dangerous trap and memory and greed and desire as the cause of suffering. His antidotes? Meditation/visualization/prayer/nature. But, as we all know, there are 49,834,635 techniques to move us out of the monster hall of mind-fame. My choice has been performance and video. In this last workshop, I will share STARVED SURVIVORShttps://youtu.be/NZcZWN2YFkI a video I made which flowed out of a day/night dream into real time. This video references fairy tale and stream of consciousness and the underground. In the past, that is the 1970's, I left my own life and it's true and bizarre and scary story by getting out of my "skin" and  taking on different personas. LEARNING TO TALK, and MASKS were the results of this self-therapy. I have also found that writing copious fairy tales have also been a way to re-boot, re-calibrate, re-see and re-sell my tainted autobiography to myself so that my past life choices don't sting and hurt so much.
We become re-deemable via the fairy-tale. We re-visit trauma and PTSD and fictionalize injustice and make the enemy pay. We re-purpose the neuro-chemistry of our brain, dragging sordid memories out of the depths of hell into bearable, creative dark. We look at  situations, make up a struggle and then find fabulous solutions, much better than the life we are leading! And guess what????The mind loves this and gets out of the rut of it's obsessive self-hate and runs toward the filmy, hazy, get out of jail .........light.
 
Buddha, thanks for playing with me.
Love,
Linda Mary Montano. Saugerties NY 2014
   
If you want to sponsor a series of four of these workshops, let me know.
Tobe Carey edited all videos which are free on You Tube.    

IN MY BROTHER'S BOAT:FAIRBANKS

Click for Options

CUT OUT OF MY BROTHER THE DOCTOR, DR. WM MONTANO MD. FAIRBANKS ALASKA VISIT

Click for Options

LINDA AS BOB DYLAN BY GISELA GAMPER

LINDA AS BOB DYLAN BY GISELA GAMPER


MY TEACHER FROM CNR:MOTHER MARY JANE AND LINDA

MOTHER MARY JANE, an Ursuline nun, gave me the art of creativity when I was 21 and saved my life. She opened the doors to the art studio and let me discover my soul. I am eternally grateful to her.










Kaat Sloggatt's photo.