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  Montyne  (1916 - 1989)

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Lived/Active: Washington/Oregon/Nevada      Known for: portrait, mural, landscape painting, sculpture

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An example of work by Montyne
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The artist, Sherman LaMont Sudbury, known as Montyne, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on November 23, 1916.  His artistic talent was recognized at the age of nine.  As other children were enjoying their youth, he would have been found under private tutoring.  Only a few years later he was studying anatomy with medical students.

At the age of twelve, because of a frail physique, he developed a consuming desire for physical strength.  This passion to build strength into his undersized body led him into weight-lifting, yoga, karate, dancing, and other physical activities.  His will-power was enormous.  His ability to overcome obstacles eventually led him into championship athletics where he established many weight-lifting records and won numerous trophies in fencing, wrestling and gymnastics.  He went to study in Mexico City, Spain, and Italy. Then, in 1940, he was to enter into the Olympics for fencing and weight-lifting, but the world had another challenge to concern itself with- World War II.

The lost opportunity to compete in the famous games was heartbreaking, so he enlisted in the Navy.  Montyne was not admitted into the war because of a broken back.  The large red X, that a military doctor painted on his chest while being examined, was a blessing in disguise.  This situation led him into a direction that would effect his art and his life forever.

The young and somewhat discouraged artist watched from the sidelines as his friends entered into the war.  The ship on which he would have traveled to fight the tyranny was torpedoed by a German U-boat, and everyone on board was killed.  This motivated him to turn his athletic prowess to a professional use.  He became a world-renowned theatrical performer.  During this time he appeared with Bob Hope and did many shows for the serviceman in the war.  Later in his life he would be acclaimed as the "Worlds Foremost Hazard Balancer," appearing in theaters and night clubs throughout the world as well as in over thirty television programs.

Montyne met many stars, politicians, and public personalities while performing.  Many times he created works of art for these people as well as producing a number of canvased works through out the world while traveling.  This combination of performer and artist allowed him to gain additional exposure to world cultures.  The opportunity to observe the body in action under stress and in motion by closely watching athletes in training year after year, afforded him invaluable supplementary knowledge.

His early studies in the dissecting laboratory, on the posing platform, and in athletics can clearly be seen in his work.  From the beginning, he was devoted to the companion arts of painting and sculpture.  After many years of hard work and experimenting, he fused the two into an art-form he called "Dimensional Painting".

Montyne would be recognized as the "Sculptor-Painter" and his contributions to the art world are revolutionary.  He added a third dimension of depth to the art of painting.  This began to be seen when he created a number of works for View-Master, namely the Tarzan of The Apes commission.  Cyrano, Samson, and The Bull-Fighter in Blue are just a few subjects he created in this unique style that is all his own.

During the end of the forties and into the fifties, he created a tremendous amount of work.  It is considered by many to be a period in his life that was uninterrupted by the normal responsibilities of living.  His work was ahead of its time -- like having a pencil in the stone age, he challenged common doctrine.  Hundreds of works were created in this period.

The last chapter in his life was filled with love, miracles, and pain.  He fell in love and married the woman of his dreams while in Portland, Oregon.  He never thought while doing a tour in Oregon that he would stop, settle down, and begin a family. At this time in his life he had already lived three lives.  Not only did his wife add a refreshing sting to his act, she gave him a family.  Forever and more did Montyne paint and sculpt his beautiful wife.  Montyne's Mona Lisa was to be 'Gallatia'.  From the time Montyne started this grand work of art to the time he died, he never stopped working on this painting.

Montyne moved into a large home in Portland and began to concentrate on his art more than he ever had before.  He gave lectures at the university and was enjoying some moderate fame as a classical artist.  In 1963 he created the world's largest float- "The Roman Fiesta".  This float was entered into the Portland Rose Parade and was viewed by 330,000 people and millions on television.  He took all top honors, then he entered the float into the Pasadena Rose Parade where again he won first place.

This work of art would change his life.  As a man in Nevada watched the Pasadena Rose Parade and saw the Roman Fiesta, it gave him the seed of an idea for a grand hotel in the middle of the desert.  Jay Sarno built Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the main theme was from the Montyne float that had captured the attention of millions.  Sarno and Montyne became wonderful friends and their relationship lead Montyne and his family to the city in the desert in 1968.

Montyne was commissioned by Sarno to create twelve heroic size statues in front of his new hotel, Circus-Circus.  Not only did Montyne do this commission, but he performed his act with his wife nightly under the permanent big top that was to become one of the most successful operations in the history of Las Vegas gaming.  At this time, Montyne's work was in demand by every hotel in the city, and the rewards were good, both financially and personally.  Commissions from the International Hotel, Caesars Palace, and private commissions from their infamous owners came unsolicited.

The MGM Hotel owners contacted Montyne, after its artist on contract had failed to complete a series of murals for the hotel. Montyne took on the monumental commission and did what no other artist could have done.  The first artist was given twenty four months to do the work.  In twenty-one months she had done only two murals.  Montyne completed all of the 36 heroic size murals in three months.  The theme was the Greek and Roman Myths, and what Montyne placed on the ceilings of the old MGM casino was far more than what they deserved.

At the end of the three months, Montyne collapsed for more than fourteen hours.  The weeks of staying up for sometimes five to six days without sleep were over.  At the top of his profession, Montyne was to experience the darker side of the city in the desert.  He had spent years creating a series of murals that depicted hell- Montyne's Inferno.  This work was done to help people make a decision as to what path in life to take; hoping that after viewing hell they would choose goodness.  While performing in Japan with his wife, thieves hijacked the art work and held it for ransom.  The work wasn't found until seven years later, buried in the desert.  Montyne recovered the work but it had been destroyed by both nature and the men that had sought to profit from it.  At the same time of the disappearance of  The Inferno Jay Sarno's prize statue of Montyne's Rape of The Sabine was stolen.  This statue is considered one of Montyne's finest sculptures, and it is rumored that the statue is still hidden somewhere Las Vegas.

After this incident Montyne found it harder to get work with the hotels, so he changed direction.  He independently started to create a series of paintings and sculptures that were to be sold in galleries.  All of these works are priceless as they demonstrate the artist's ability to once again overcome the forces of evil that sometimes can influence our lives.  Montyne hung on to his dignity as rejection some times dominated this time in his unique life.  The men that built Las Vegas wanted more than his art, and what they lost was the opportunity to fill their houses with more history.  The MGM in Reno, Nevada was one of the last hotels to have his brush touch their walls.

In 1980 a fire destroyed the murals in the old MGM.  During this period his work was sold all over the world through many galleries.  He created a series of western art, then some religious paintings and statues, but always returned to his sculptor-paintings. The Bull-Fighter, The Mexican Bandit, and portraits of the human body all are examples of his mastery in colour and sculpture. The cigarette in The Mexican Bandit looks as if it is really on fire, and the hand of  The Bull Fighter looks as if you can reach out and touch it.

In 1981, he was contacted by a person from his past, for what turned out to be his last commission.  He went to Beverly Hills, California and spent fourteen months painting a series of murals.  This work included many subject matters.  In the Grand Stairway was a scene of Napoleon and his troops struggling with a cannon.  In the dining area was a mural of a medieval feast at a banquet table; Kings and Queens alike.  On other walls the artist painted Neptune, a fight between two gladiators, and Moses.  In one area, Montyne changed his style and created a softness in the room by depicting an oriental landscape, and in the master bedroom, created a huge ceiling mural of the deity.  Unfortunately, the man that commissioned him never paid, in full, for this work.

Except for a few small oils and sculptures, he never painted or sculpted again.  He died in Las Vegas, in his son's arms, on March 17th, 1989.  "The work of art first starts in the mind. Whether it is in stone, on canvas, or an actor in a movie, to make a work of art tangible, for others to see, takes a lot of guts and hard work." Montyne, 1979

Source: AV Fine Arts

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