Montigue: A Life

When I first met Montigue, I thought he was a chronic exaggerator. 

I had just moved to a small quirky town in Arizona and he was one of the “characters”. I’d see him painting in the park or taking photos at events around town and we’d always talk for a while.

At that time he was hosting art shows out of his 300 sq ft studio on the edge of town (which was also his home) and traveling the Southwest in an old minivan, selling canvas paintings and taking mural jobs. 


He had wild stories about his past.

Growing up with cult Christian with 11 siblings, learning carpentry and engineering from his brilliant but misanthropic grampa, training with professional Broadway dancers in his late teens, living outside of society as vagabond hitchhiker for many years.

Monti’s struggles, too, seemed unreal…

He was born with autism and chronic pain, which he later learned was from an autoimmune disease. As a child his family told him to quit whining when he tried to explain he was in pain. They told him he was stupid and lazy when he couldn’t learn the way his other siblings could.

He shared how this autoimmune disease had closed the door on dancing professionally at age 20. More recently, it had caused a series kidney stones which led to hospitalization and several botched surgeries, nearly killing him. 

He spoke about his young daughter, who he rarely got to see after a difficult breakup. She was his reason for living, for rejoining society, his drive to work so hard to build his career.

He told me about the frequent choice between food versus art supplies. 

Yet he spoke with ambition and confidence about his future.

He was planning a European tour, he expected to be making quite a lot of money from art within a year or two, he spoke about being internationally famous and sharing his story with thousands of people. 


I became highly skeptical of everything Monti said… the stories and the plans seemed just a little too far-fetched.

However, I respected his art and enjoyed his company and I wanted to understand him better. We spent more time together and I began to see his actions. 

He knew what he wanted and he was willing to work extremely hard for it. I saw the quality of his paintings constantly improving.

I saw him go to Europe, convert a sprinter van, and travel through countless countries, painting and selling art as he went.


I saw him seamlessly change course when the COVID pandemic hit the week before an intended 8 month US tour- alternating odd jobs with high end mural work, while the rest of the country lived off of unemployment and stimulus checks.

As his financial situation improved, I saw him transform his larger studio apartment into fully functional Boho art installation. 

Beyond his approach to his career, I was struck by how he treated the people around him. He was not one to use others to further his ends, aware of the balance of give and take in his interactions. He knew how to responding with care, humor, and competence in times of hardship. 

When he made a mistake he would take responsibility and fix it to the best of his ability. He was incredibly honest: willing to speak his truth and willing to shoulder the consequences of that honesty. 

In summary, he would approach every challenge of life as a work of art. 

My first impression had been dead wrong. As I watched him complete his ambitious goals over and over again, it became clear, this man was not an exaggerator.

I’ve sadly found most people, once look closer, are not at all who they present themselves to be. I’ve been guilty of misrepresenting myself in this manner.

However, Monti was absolutely a case where I discovered with surprise and delight that the real person is even deeper and richer than the already compelling character I was initially shown.


I see a world full of people trying to be artists. People who like the idea of “artist”… perhaps it sounds sexy or exciting to them.

They copy what others create without infusing it with any true spirit. They engineer their life circumstances to fit this idea of what an artist’s life should be.


Montigue is the opposite. I say this now with absolute confidence. Everything he creates is born out of passion and necessity.

Art is the tool that keeps him alive. He uses it to manage chronic physical pain, to heal the deep traumas of his past, to gain clarity in his choices, as his means of generating income, and as the way to tell his extraordinary story. 

Don’t take his word for it. Don’t take my word for it. Instead, watch him. Pay very close attention. I can guarantee that if you do that, you will see for yourself.