They are defining figures in culture, art, music, design and sports. They are inspiring, mysterious, tragic and driven, often eccentric and sometimes tortured. They are icons. And one rising artist is embracing their stories, delving into their psyches and bringing them to life with his bare hands and presenting them through a four-dimensional, gallery experience. Like many of his subjects, his creativity was born of depression. In search of relief from the need to sacrifice a New York career to care for his terminally ill father back home on the Northshore, Matthew Montero began creating stunning portraits of people whose triumphs and tragedies are famously intertwined.
“I pick deep artists with world altering influence, and their lives have to speak to me personally. I immerse myself in these characters and learn everything I can about them. Like a method actor, I put myself in their stories. Studying my heroes and interpreting them is soul nourishing and helped lift me out of my dark place,” says the passionate, young artist, who prefers to guide guests through his meticulously designed space, barefoot. Montero works and displays in a wooded Northshore sanctuary that is a total reimagining of his father’s home. “I want guests who visit to experience the whole environment and space, not just the works.”
Montero paints the icons using house paint applied without tools or brushes. “I want to capture their soul and put it on canvas. I need to feel them in my hands,” he explains as he drags his fingers through his dark, uncoiffed curls. And because he uses durable house paint, he encourages viewers to feel the icons too. “I create unique, three-dimensional textures for hair and fabrics and smoother ones for skin for each subject. I want guests to experience the different personalities with their hands like I do.” The fourth dimension of the presentation is Montero’s own narration of his inspiration, process and design choices bringing each depiction of diverse human experience to life. “I didn’t want to be in anyone else’s gallery. I wanted the whole presentation under my control”.
While Montero says he will never sell the originals, he has garnered the attention of international interests and is currently in negotiations with Wynn Resorts to open an ICONS by Montero Museum in their Las Vegas property. The originals would be on display along with the opportunity to buy signed prints and merchandise featuring his artwork including apparel, pillows, glasses, coasters and more.
Montero says his ambition is to have three U.S. based museums in Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles and eventually add locations overseas. Until then, he is happy to engage all his visitors, even children, with his enigmatic creations.
ICONS by Montero is located in Covington. Tours are by appointment only. For more information and to shop online, contact email@example.com or visit iconsmuseum.com