MARGARET MONTGOMERY

 

www.margaretmontgomeryartwork.com

 

I am a native New Yorker; so, it is perhaps unsurprising that the urban landscape of New York would be my primary subject matter.  Most of my cityscapes are done in studio, but I always try to do some preliminary studies onsite.  It is important to me to have had some firsthand experience of my subject matter. I am also a realist painter and so the limitations and illusory aspect of perception is of particular interest to me and I try to convey that in my work:  Specifically, the ambiguity of how light and shadow defines form.

I have always been a representational painter.  Nevertheless, I consider my paintings to be abstractions of reality.  I avoid illustration, but I appreciate the narrative aspect that all representational painting unavoidably has.  And, the “story” I have to tell is about the vast and ever-changing city of New York.  As a life-long New Yorker, I know from first hand observation how mutable the city is, undergoing continual social, cultural, economic, political and architectural transformations.

Landmarks, such as the Guggenheim Museum, Jefferson Market Library, and Our Lady of Pompeii offer a counterpoint to the surrounding flux, which is why such buildings often serve as the focal point of my cityscapes, but my subject matter is really the larger physical reality in which they exist.  That takes several forms:  In my daytime paintings, the play of light and shadow defines the buildings and their relation to their environs.  The white façade of the Guggenheim is particularly sensitive to changing light, as can be seen in my painting “Summer Evening in New York:”  Colors ranging from buttery yellow, to orange, pink, greyish violet and beige can be seen.  Shadows and/or reflections from across the street appear on the museum’s exterior, hinting at an unseen physical reality.  And, in my painting “Jefferson Market Library I” the city beyond the picture plane can be glimpsed, reflected in the windows of the foreground building.

In addition to many daytime cityscapes, I’ve made something of a specialty of painting urban nightscapes.  

My nightscape are evocative of everything I most associate with the city:  A sense of anonymity, or aloneness despite the crowds; the insignificance of the individual in the midst of a place this huge, this densely populated.  In my painting “125th Street, the View from the El” the lone 24 hour business is a lonely beacon in a sea of darkness, which is meant to convey a sense of urban isolation----a Hopperesque “lonely city.’

But despite the angst, I love the way New York City looks at night; there is something magical about the place:  The darkness obscures the massiveness of the architecture, while the dazzling lights create an illusory and ethereal environment.   When it’s very dark out, buildings can disappear above the illumination from streetlights, traffic lights, storefronts and signs; pretty much everything above the second or third floor fades into darkness.  Those lights that shine out from upper story windows are rarely strong enough to define anything outside.  Instead, they often look like twinkling little stars in the night sky.

 

I first began painting in my twenties, but gave up by the time I was thirty because I couldn’t earn a living as an artist.  I then spent the next two plus decades working as an assistant fundraiser.  However, about fourteen years ago, I decided to make another go of it.  I now paint fulltime, and I have exhibited extensively in galleries, art fairs and alternative spaces both in NYC and Philadelphia.

I have studied at the Art Students’ League of New York; The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.  Additionally, I have a bachelor’s degree from New York University----where I majored in philosophy.

In addition to the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, I am a member of the National Association of Women Artists; the West Side Arts Coalition; and, the Art Students League of New York.