PLATTSBURGH — Kevin Montanaro’s paintings have hung in galleries across the nation, but he never had an exhibition in his hometown until now.
“The Art of Kevin Montanaro” opened in the Strand Center Main Gallery last Friday, and now his Plattsburgh family, former Plattsburgh High School teachers and peers can view his tremendous talent through June 28.
The self-taught artist’s work has been published in more than a dozen national and international magazines and newspapers, independent comic books, product packaging art, music CDs and band merchandising art.
This show is a sampling of his current gallery-style work influenced by Rembrandt, Caravaggio and Saturno Butto.
He works in ink, carbon pencil, acrylic paint, Gouache and watercolor, and sculpts in various media.
His styles fluctuate between realism, photorealism, pop and lowbrow art, and anti-art.
Montanaro grew up in Plattsburgh, where his parents David and Saundra Stortz still live.
His late father, Albert Montanaro, worked in the Communications Department at SUNY Plattsburgh.
TRAINING BY OSMOSIS
Ever since he was 10, he dug art and absorbed the works he saw in the studios and displayed in Myers Fine Arts Building as he waited for his father to finish up.
“I just kind of got a feel for what art and artists were like,” said Montanaro, who works as a hairstylist and lives in Burlington.
“The type of work that it was, what it would look like and what the people were like. It was a very motivating factor for me in my childhood.”
He graduated from PHS in the class of 1988.
He moved to Florida for a change of scenery but relocated back to the Queen City, where he has been a fixture as an artist and curator in its arts scene for two decades.
PEOPLE & THEIR ENVIRONMENT
Montanaro’s narrative works include “Medico Della Peste” (Plague Doctor Mask), “Fight Fascism” and “Grimoire.”
The viewer engages the all-seeing eyes of his subjects in “Woman with Cameo Earrings,” “Fumi,” and “Girl with Blue Bangs.”
His works offer something for everyone.
For the foodie, “Clara Likes Ice Cream,” Clara Loves Donuts” and “French Toast.”
For the pop culturalist, “Vulcan Sunset,” No Joke,” “Klinger in a Yellow Dress,” “Felix and Oscar,” and “We’ll Begin with a Spin.”
He captures people in their environment in “A Duet with Saffie,” “A Bathtub in the Woods” and “Girl in a Meadow.”
His technical chops shine in “A Carwash in Van Nuys” and “Green Oldsmobile” and “Lovers in Transit.”
“Castle Repairs” and “Hotel Evernia” reveal his interests in architecture and place.
Montanaro’s lens turns on the everyday in works such as “Woman Putting on Stockings” to the cryptic “Ossaury #1” and “Ossuary #2.”
“Right now, I’m really kind of drawing inspiration from the Renaissance artwork, especially from the Baroque period, where it was just really rich tones, deep shadows, and just the types of things that they would have in those paintings at the time,” he said.
He was a punk-rock kid in the “shadow cast” at “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” screenings at the Strand Theater in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
Now, he’s popping up on the Plattsburgh arts scene at the Strand Gallery.
A conversation with a Plattsburgh friend led him to David Monette, gallery/museum director, who was enthusiastic about his work and Lake City links.
“It was a good opportunity,” Montanaro said.
“I thought it was fun. I always liked the Strand and the project of putting it back together. I thought it would be just neat to hang a show there.”
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IF YOU GO
WHAT: "The Art of Kevin Montanaro" featuring 43 acrylic paintings the artist.
WHEN: Through Friday, June 28.
WHERE: Stand Center Gallery, 23 Brinkerhoff St., Plattsburgh.
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays. Closed Sunday.