|The Long Walk by Monty Singer|
Navajo artist, Monty Singer has all of the talent and none of the ego. Monty has never had any formal art training. He learned his craft by watching his father, artist Ed Singer. Monty told Navajo Nation Fair, “I was inspired mostly while growing up and watching my father paint and draw. As a kid I used to sit and watch him work on these giant oil paintings.” Stylistically, his Father's influence can not be denied.
|Navajo Woman in Imitation Leopard by Ed Singer|
When Monty was a teenager, he walked away from art and didn't come back to it for fifteen years. During that period of artistic void, he spent four years in the Marines and worked over thirty jobs. At the age of 31, he finally accepted his role as an artist. “After some time in the Marine Corps and drifting around from job to job, mostly getting fired, I came to realize making art is all I’m really qualified to do,” Monty said in the Navajo Nation Fair interview.
Monty treats his painting like a job, often spending eight or more hours a day in his tiny studio, only stopping for meal breaks. The results of his dedication are amazing. Monty Singer's work reflects a richness and depth that can not be duplicated. His color usage borders on Fauvism or Divisionist, but somehow, his subjects still glow with realism.
Even when those subjects make uncomfortable, such as in pieces like Turned On which can be viewed at www.montysingerart.com (NFSW). Turned On features a blond white woman, the perpetual "all-American" standard for beauty and desire, seeming to fall though a Navajo rug with strategically placed, very realistic screws. It is both detached and violent yet can be interpreted as revealing unspoken truths about the objectification of women and the commodification of culture.
|Blue Rock, Red Water by Monty Singer|
In Monty's pop-modern collection of work, he continues to push the envelope of what falls under heading “Native American” art. His popular series of Betty Page portraits feature Navajo rugs that might hang on the walls of wealthy art collectors along with Michigan J. Frog and even the legendary trickster coyote. My unqualified art-school dropout self interprets it as, "Good sense tells us to turn around when a coyote crosses our path, but when there's a hot girl on that path, the inner conflict begins and opens the door for self-destructive decisions."
|Blood Quantum II by Monty Singer|
Don't put Monty in box, though. He has a general dislike for labels, he explained to Navajo Nation Fair, "I’m not too big a fan of being a part of any group, because I always fear the group will somehow try to define or shape me."
Strip him of labels and Monty is still a damned good artist. His portraits and classical nudes, they can be viewed at www.montysingerart.com, are lovingly and flawlessly executed. His use a of light and shadow reflect mood with having to even see the faces of his models. He uses emphasis and subordination to reveals tightness in certain muscles leaving us voyeuristic glimpses into moments of personal strain and reflection.
His Navajo portraits, however, are beyond comparison. His Blood Quantum series, shown above and below, featuring a black-Navajo relative, are not only beautiful, but gives us pause to consider our own inner racism and ponder the question "What does Native America really look like?"
|Blood Quantum III by Monty Singer|
Bloggers note: I'd really like to thank Monty for allowing me to feature his work and sending me files so that I could share it with you all. Please check out his website www.montysingerart.com. And Monty, maybe you'd like to get some Giclée and poster prints for all us poor admirers of you work to buy?