AuSABLE FORKS — Art entered Kakwirakeron ("Scattered branches") Montour’s consciousness at an early age.
“I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old, my mom painting a couple of pictures,” said Montour, who lives in Kahnawake, Quebec.
“One was of an old stone house in Kahnawake. The one that really stayed with me most of my life is a picture of an Indian woman in a buckskin dress.”
When his mother relocated from Brooklyn to Georgia, the buckskin-dress painting was lost, but Montour never forgot it.
“To me, it was magic that my mother could do this. I wanted to do that,” he said.
His brother, Mark, also had artistic talent. He brought part of a mural home.
“It was something fascinating. It inspired me. First, it was very frustrating. I couldn’t do it. The big thing for me (was) what happened in 1963, we moved to New York, to Brooklyn.”
He attended the High School of Art and Design when he wasn’t spending an exorbitant amount of time viewing the old masters and the SoHo scene.
“I used to haunt the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I educated my own eyes. I wasn’t sure how it related to me. I looked at it. I loved a lot of what I saw. Things inspire you. I always loved the work of Dutch masters — Rembrandt, Vermeer and these other lesser-known ones as well. The things I saw were magic,” Montour said.
Montour returned to Kahnawake. He illustrated a book of legends and traditional teachings for the North American Indian Traveling College.
He taught classes at the cultural center on the American side of Akwesasne. His family relocated to Thunder Bay, where he worked in children’s mental health. Sixteen years later, he returned to Kahnawake.
He did editorial cartoons for the Eastern Door newspaper and won provincial and national awards for his work.