I make acrylic on canvas, abstract dreamscape paintings. These intimate to wall scale works are intended to capture the pattern of nature and encourage inner contemplation. Using a reductive action process, I lift the paint off the canvas creating veils of jewel and earth tone colors. Forms are built, yet never fully defined while light permeates and remains ephemeral. Mark making and elusive handwritten text brings one’s focus close to the surface.
I create paintings that are meant to be visually wandered like a labyrinth. Coming back to an opening over and over. Rediscovering a place of light. My life and my creativity are a spiritual practice. I make these paintings as a physical manifestation of meditation in action.
Being in nature on a daily basis informs my work and well being. This includes walking my back yard wildlands, following Tinker the cat on adventures, and watching my teen grow. They are my favorite biomorphic work in progress. Humor and mystery unfolds and is found everywhere.
Julie B. Montgomery
BORN 1970, Bremen, Germany
The London Institute, Chelsea College of Art and Design, 2001
Sonoma State University B.A. Drawing and Business Art, magna cum laude, 1997
Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge, UK, 1996
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2023 BUMP Gallery + Wine Cellar, Sonoma, California
2023 Julia Morgan House, Petaluma, California
2022 Addington Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2020 Art Pic Gallery, Los Angeles, California
2019 Obsidian Ridge Winery, Cornerstone, Sonoma, California
2018 Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2016 Art Pic Gallery, Los Angeles, California
2015 Karpeles Manucript Museum, Santa Barbara, California
2014 MichaelKate Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
2012 Art Pic Gallery, Los Angeles, California
2010 Caruso Woods Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
2010 Vault Gallery, Carpinteria, California
2008 Hyde Street Gallery, San Francisco, California
2006 Belcher Gallery, San Francisco, California
2004 Espacio S/N, El Bruc, Barcelona, Spain
2004 Belcher Gallery, San Francisco, California
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2023 "Ongoing" Art Pic Gallery, Los Angeles, California
2022 "Wall to Wall", Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma,California
2020 "Shelter in Place", Addington Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2019 "The Back Room",Addington Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2019 "California", Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2017 "100 Episode of Funkzone Podcast Live", Santa Barbara, California
2016 "Herd Around the World", SBCAST Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
2016 “100 Grand”, Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
2016 “Art is Contemplation”, Palm Loft Gallery, Carpinteria, California
2016 "South" The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara, California
2015 "Valdosta National 2015", Valdosta University Fine Art Gallery, Georgia
2015 "Impart" The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara, California
2015 "Expressions", Palm Loft Gallery, Carpinteria, California
2014 "Sketchbook Project", Brooklyn Art Library, Williamsburg, NY
2013 "2013 Juried Show", Sylvia White Gallery, Ventura, California
2013 "Sketchbook Project Tour 2013", Brooklyn Art Library, Williamsburg, NY
2012 "Valdosta National 2012", Valdosta University Fine Arts Gallery, Georgia
2012 "From Dusk till Drawn", Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, SB, CA
2012 "100 Grand", Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
2011 "Economy", Richmond Gallery, Richmond, British Colombia
2010 "Painting Only", Pacific Arts League, Palo Alto, California
2010 "ATC", Richmond Gallery, Richmond, British Columbia
2010 "Abstraction", Caruso Woods, Santa Barbara, California
2010 "Studio", The Arts Center, Carpinteria, California
2009 "2009 Juried Exhibition", Sylvia White Gallery, Ventura, California
2008 "Contemporary", Hyde Street Gallery, San Francisco, California
2006 “Painting in the South of France,” Live Worms Gallery, San Francisco, California
2006 “Landscape: A Modern Interpretation,” California Modern Gallery, SF, California
2005 “20/20,” Belcher Gallery, San Francisco, California
2005 “Open Studios Exhibition,” SomARTS, San Francisco, California
2005 “Introductions,” CFA Gallery, San Anselmo, California
2005 “May/Be”,Belcher Gallery, San Francisco, California
2004 “Exposed,” Belcher Gallery, San Francisco, California
2004 “L’Exposition des Artists,” L’Abbaye de Caunes Minervois, France
2004 “The Figure in Art,” CFA Gallery, San Anselmo, California
2004 “The New and the Known,” CFA Gallery, San Anselmo, California
Addington Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
ArtPic Gallery, Los Angeles, California
PRESS, PUBLICATIONS & MEDIA
Montecito Magazine Montecito Magazine LINK
Funkzone Postcast Episode #035 Funkzone Podcast LINK
KCET Artbound KCET Artbound Article LINK
Santa Barbara News Press Santa Barbara News Press LINK
Santa Barbara Magazine Santa Barbara Magazine LINK
Venata Magazine Venata Magazine LINK
California Home and Design, SF Magazine, Marin Magazine, The Marin Independent Journal, Midi-Libre, Le Depeche, L’Independent, Sonoma Valley Style, from Rizzoli Press
Mad Men, The Dropout, Goliath, Westworld, Glee, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, 13 Reasons Why, Morning Show, How to Get Away with Murder, Euphoria, Modern Family, Two and a Half Men, Bones, New Girl, Gone Girl, The Newsroom, Modern Family, Imagine, Arrested Development, Lie to Me, The Big C, Brothers and Sisters, Castle, 24, How I Met Your Mother, Shameless, Better Things, Grace & Frankie, Revenge, Parks and Recreation, Homeland, Blackish, Promising Young Woman, Billy Knight, Rebel, Two Broke Girls, For All Mankind, The Flight Attendant, Stumptown, Dead to Me, Chicago Med, Spenser, Lethal Weapon, Sue Heck, I Love You For That, I Love Dick, Purple Hearts, RoadRunner, The Millers, Sean Saves the World, Waves, Leverage, L’Oreal, BMW AT&T, Nike, Buik, Clairol, Discover Card, Fidelity, Xbox, FedEx, Ford, Cox, Peloton, Hugo Boss
SELECTED PUBLIC/PRIVATE COLLECTIONS
The Brooklyn Art Library, Williamsburg, NY
Mr. Daniel Patterson’s restaurant Coi, SF
Mr. Tim Bjorn, Denmark
Ms. Karin Dobbin, New York
Mr. Moche Tabibnia, Milan
Masia Can Serrat, El Bruc, Barcelona
Ms. Melissa Kurchen, London
Mr. Piers Tallala, London
Mr. Chad Hayek, Switzerland
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE & FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMS
2021 Hendrix Residence, Newburgh, New York
2018 Adolph and Ester Gottlieb Foundation Grant
2017 The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara, California
2015 The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara, California
2009 White Sparrow Artist in Residence, Boise, Idaho
2007 California Tropics, Carpinteria, California
2005 Yosemite Renaissance, Yosemite, California
2004 Can Serrat, El Bruc, Barcelona, Spain,
2004 Berges, Caunes Minervois, France
2008 Adolph and Ester Gottlieb Foundation Grant
ART CRITIC REVIEWS
Traces of the Ineffable: New Paintings by Julie Montgomery by Betty Brown, Phd
"The touch of an infinite mystery passes over the trivial and the familiar, making it break out into ineffable music…The trees, the stars, and the blue hills ache with a meaning which can never be uttered in words."
"Julie Montgomery creates elegant images of trees and sky and sea that seem to shimmer beneath her meditative gaze. Then she inscribes gentle, elusive texts over them, whispered phrases of human presence responding to the landscape. Erased, obscured, and evocative, the words comprise painterly palimpsests; viewers are compelled to fill the ellipses in order to construct meaning."
"However rubbed, washed, and scraped, the images in these paintings refuse to disappear--just as nature resists all of our insensate attempts to obliterate her. Instead, Montgomery’s ethereal forms emerge as diffused veils of jewel-like color. Adumbral jade green, lusty garnet red, or regal jasper brown, they recall the treasures hidden deep within the planet’s core and seem to imply that what we see here above the horizon is merely an emanation of the earth’s interior light."
"Critic Arthur C. Danto argues that what makes something art is its use of rhetorical (and generally metaphorical) ellipsis. Viewers participate in the co-creation of the artwork by filling in the gaps generated by such ellipses. If everything is given—if the landscape is reproduced in painstaking scientific detail—it is not art for Danto. Nor is it art for Montgomery, who presents but does not describe, implies but refuses to insist. Subtle and suggestive, her hazy curtains of trees and hills and sky coruscate under the barely perceived calligraphy."
"Encountering Montgomery’s paintings is like staring out across the fog-covered Pacific and seeing the Channel Islands revealed as the ocean mist lifts on a sunny Santa Barbara day. Gazing westward, we know the islands are there, even when they are obscured by haze. Contemplating Montgomery’s art, we know the poetry is there, but the elegant erasures and ellipses force us to look further, to look deeper, to look within, in order to perceive the shifting strata of meaning."
"Tagore’s lines form a fitting parallel for the ineffable nature of Montgomery’s paintings: “The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark. The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.”
Betty Ann Brown, Ph.D., Art Critic
Fuzzy Visual Logic by Josef Woodard
"In the paintings of Julie B. Montgomery now at Caruso Woods Gallery, one detects a distant ripple to the aesthetic gospel according to impressionism, set in the service of a personal vision. In her sensual and visually massaging pieces, canvases operate at an interesting juncture between abstraction and pictorial allusion."
"We sense a connection to the known world, but as seen through the perceptual gaze and filter of a style that softens edges and reduces real world elements to discreet forms swimming in some cosmic middle space. Hers is like a squinting take on the world of light and dark forms we live in, via an ultra-soft focus offshoot of realism. Or, if you like, she's an abstractionist with more interest in pure visual sensation than the outside world. Either way the art works, and woos."
"Montgomery's canvases come in assorted shapes and sizes (emphasis on "shapes"). Larger canvases in the gallery include the innately cool "Blue Evolution" and "Grand Ochre" with its scrubbed golden aura and seeping drips emanating from the seemingly overheated objects, fuzzily represented."
"By contrast, the "Evolution Series" is a mosaic-like set of 18 square paintings, 8"x8", like a set of dream time postcards with all the details rubbed out. Still, we sense ghostly hints of palm trees, wavy horizons lines and figures making their presence known. On the back wall of the gallery, there hangs a triptych called, "Sixth Season" with a mystical wash in keeping with the paintings title."
"With the beguiling canvas called, "Metamorphosis in Blue II," which vaguely evokes as assembly of architectural forms set before distant mountain contours, the palette expands from Montgomery's typically more two-tone approach to each piece. The broader color spectrum is only subtly more dramatic, but subtle changes and variations make an impact when the aesthetic code is so carefully and successfully tended."
"Little things matter in art with such quiet, contemplative dignity. In the end, Montgomery's art achieves a transcendental effect by establishing a connective bridge between the artist, the world and the viewer, and the sure but mysterious spaces linking them."
Poetry in Action:Julie B Montgomery's Zen Paintings by Charles Donelan for KCET
Julie Montgomery pursues a vision of painting that combines a zen-like appreciation for the value of spontaneity with a meticulously planned process. Blending rigor and freedom in this way allows her to create convincing landscapes that retain the compositional integrity and shifting layers of color one ordinarily associates with pure abstraction.
In her current show at MichaelKate Interiors Gallery in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, Montgomery displays the confidence of a mid-career artist who has found a balance between the immediacy of nature and the sophistication of the contemporary. Although her most ambitious work thus far is a triptych called "Mariposa Green" in tribute to the landscape of northern California, where she was raised, Montgomery now lives and works in Carpinteria. The intimacy and style of her studio space reflects not only her background -- she grew up in Sonoma, where her parents restore antiques -- but also her career as a fashion model, which has taken her for extended periods to both England and Japan. Right on the beach, and adjacent to the train tracks in a complex that includes not only other artists, but also woodworkers and crafts people of all sorts, it's a remarkable spot on greater Santa Barbara's vivid art map.
Montgomery, a group of us took Amtrak's Surfliner from the station on State Street in Santa Barbara to Carpinteria, a journey of approximately ten minutes duration. From the Carpinteria station, it was an easy walk alongside the tracks that led us to the former loading dock that serves as her front porch. Following the way pointed out by a small sign that says "Entrée des artistes," we encountered a long room dominated by large canvases, sketchbooks, and natural light.
Montgomery paints in acrylic, and she begins by layering all the paint she plans to use directly onto the canvas. Once this "block" of pigment has been mixed and spread, she has a limited period of time in which to carve into it with palette knives, spread it again with large brushes, and finally scrub parts of the surface with rags containing small amounts of a secret miracle solvent that turns out to be 409. When I asked Montgomery to explain the logic behind this somewhat unorthodox procedure, she said, "I started working this way for practical reasons. I moved from using Conté on paper to painting in acrylic on canvas because that process worked better for me. But I've also always been interested in sculpture, and that's part of it as well. By mixing the paint on the canvas and then drawing on that surface by scraping, I was able to get the reduction effect that I had seen in the foundry. The chemistry of it is unpredictable, which is part of what makes it interesting."
Within the first hour or so, these acrylic pigments begin to harden, so it is very important that Montgomery know where she is going when she sets out. Leafing through her many sketchbooks, one sees an artist's hand in evidence that is meticulous, line-oriented, and seemingly quite far from what's on the walls. I asked her about this, and then about what gives her the ability to work with such an unstable, abstract-seeming arrangement and still end up with recognizable landscape images. "I feel so close to my subject matter with these paintings that it seems to pass through me onto the canvas," she says. "The drawings in my sketchbooks are more archetypal figures, but the canvas gave me different constraints to work with and against, like the sense of a band at the top and the bottom of the picture. That cued my response, which was to draw landscapes."
But how does she bring together the alchemy of mixing paint with the science of rendering? "There are two things going on," she says. "The first is that in this process, I have to work quickly, so it becomes about the action of it. I'm not working from photographs, although I am very interested in and influenced by photography. When these landscapes come through, they become like Rorschach blots -- different people see different places and things in them. For me to draw something imprints that image in my body. I establish a subconscious relationship to the shapes, and that's part of what I'm using when I paint. These images are my dreamscapes, but I see them more as windows than as mirrors. I'm drawing from my inner life, but I'm looking outwards, either at the world or at the surface and the materials. I love solving visual problems using math and geometry, but I am also passionate about the beauty of things like wood grain and marble. I think of what I am doing as setting up a situation with these ingredients, and then participating in that situation by painting."
Digging a little deeper as I studied the grid-like structures in her "Mars" series of paintings, I asked Montgomery to say more about the idea that she is doing "action painting." She said that she does "work on the composition first, but once I've set up the canvas and applied the pigment, it becomes a drawing exercise in which I am working against the clock. I have to be quite deliberate with my decisions at that point because within an hour or so the paint will set. I work fast, and although I have still got the urge to do very exact stuff, something that you can see from my sketchbooks, when I am painting in this way there's a feeling of spontaneity that's important as well. I find the intensity of the emotion is there in the urgency of the act."
"I feel a strong connection to the environment and I think my work reflects that. The way I work feels like skating to me, or running downhill. It's one of those activities where you throw yourself forward with a kind of deep inner trust. I think in part my fascination with layers of color began when I spent lots of time going to the museum in order to look at Mark Rothko's work in person."
One of the subtlest aspects of any recent Julie Montgomery painting is the inevitable ghostly trace of her handwriting that barely interrupts the smooth panels of color. She has a habit of writing fragments from her journals onto these canvases, and then erasing them with a cloth until only the slightest, mostly unreadable shadow of them remains. It's a barely detectable, somewhat private, and very personal touch. When asked about the writing, she said that, "all of my recent paintings include elements of writing, handwriting that I do from my journals on to the canvas, and then I rub the surface to obscure the words so that they can no longer be read. I've been in the habit of doing this for fifteen years now. It adds another layer of texture to the image, and it gives the work a personal relation to me through the hidden message and through the presence of my handwriting as shadow form."
And what do these whispered passages actually say? "They are phrases," Montgomery told me, "like I remember one was 'remembering the breath of a new born dark place.' In my writing I try to connect with the elemental rhythms of life, like night and day. I look to my work and my writing for a connection with pre-existence, and an immersion in a sense of trust and freedom. When it's going well, I can relax into it and know that the work will be there for me. It's a hollow bone, and when I ring the bell, the stuff breaks free." This poetic dimension, slight as it may be in terms of the visible, nevertheless sets the tone for these unusual, and unusually moving images of landscape--both the one outside, and the one that we all carry in the interior.
"The paintings of Julie Montgomery capture the landscape of elsewhere. Through veils of color, forms are built, but never fully defined. Light permeates, but remains ephemeral. It is as if one is looking at a reflection that could be erased were a wind to come along.
Painting for Julie B. Montgomery is as much a reductive process as it is additive. Thin washes are applied and subsequently scrubbed away to reveal figures and places. What remains recalls the work of Helen Frankenthaler, the Impressionists and Chinese landscape paintings yet reflects the artist's singular style and process. True to her nature, Julie Montgomery explores spirituality and beauty while creating a space for one to reflect on where real life lies."
Andrea P. Sparrow, White Sparrow Artist in Residence Director, Artist
"The magic in Julie Montgomery's paintings is like that of poetry. Her subtle, warm palette of layers added and removed from the canvas, have a power that is felt long before any literal information is taken in. They bring to mind something Jorge Luis Borges said about poetry, "I know for a fact that we FEEL the beauty of a poem long before we even begin to think of a meaning." These paintings unveil themselves slowly, akin to the work of JMW Turner where the eyes have to adjust before all the subtle detail can be taken in."
Donna Seager, Gallerist