Fred Montague will make his mark on the Park City Kimball Arts Festival
Fred Montague, founder of Mountain Bear Ink and member of the Park City Professional Artists Association, will be one of the more than 220 international and local artists who will show and sell their works at the 47th annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival this weekend.
Montague, who lives in Wanship, has shown at the Arts Festival a few times, dating him back nearly 20 years ago, when he lived in Indiana and was a professor at Purdue University.
“It’s interesting because I was invited to the Park City Kimball Arts Festival back then,” Montague said during a Park Record interview at his home and studio. “I sold handmade books, and I rented the tent and brought a suitcase full of these books.”
When Montague moved to Summit County in the winter of 1993 to teach classes at the University of Utah, he became a member of the Park City Professional Artists Association, a nonprofit that promotes and encourages the production, exhibition, education and networking of artists to benefit the growth of the visual arts in the community.
“Then my job at the U. got intense, so, I dropped out for a while,” he said.
Montague taught Global and Environmental Issues, Introduction to Environmental Science, Introduction to Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Literature of Ecology and Ecological Principles of Organic Gardening.
“That didn’t give me time to be a [PCPAA] member,” he said. “I finally became a member again after I retired a couple of years ago,” he said.
Here is a list of the PCPAA members involved in this year’s Park City Kimball Arts Festival:
During this year’s arts festival, Montague will sell his ink prints, which are detailed renditions of wildlife.
“I started off printing images of animals when I lived in Indiana because I wrote my own textbooks when I taught at Purdue,” he said. “I wanted to have illustrations, but I didn’t want to do half-tone. I just wanted to do black and white, ink.”
Montague took his proposal to a friend whose family owned a printing business.
“I asked him how much he would charge to make prints for my books and he gave me a price, which was way too much, and I said, ‘I guess I’m not going to do that project.’ And he said, ‘why don’t you print it yourself?” Montague said. “I thought he was being a smart alec, because he was young and when I was his age, I was a smart alec, but I had the good sense to say, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘I’ll give you a printing press.’“
The friend had tried to give the 1913 Golding press to a museum, but they were so common that the museum refused.
“It was the press that his uncle and grandfather started their printing business with but the catch was no one wanted it because the presses were a dime-a-dozen and they were mainly used for scrap cast iron,” Montague said. “So, he gave it to me.”
The press, which is still used to print his books, is mainly used for his woodblock and zinc letterpress prints.
“Before I got the press, I was doing ink drawings, but I wanted to share them with more people,” Montague said. “The problem with ink drawings is that once you sell the original, it’s gone. So I sent my original ink drawing off to an engraver and they would engrave a zinc letter-press plate and then I would use that to print.”
The woodcut prints, however, are all made in house.
“I buy the maple at MacBeath Hardwoods in Salt Lake and carve the blocks myself,” Montague said. “Most people don’t carve in maple because it’s too hard. But if you’re going to make prints with all of that pressure, it’s a good wood to have because it holds a fine line, whereas softer wood would break down pretty quickly.
“If I wanted to, the blocks would last 200 prints,” he said. “But I try to keep the print low and just do more subjects. I like being in control.”
Another challenge of the craft is the ink.
“It deteriorates faster than I can use it, and by deteriorates, I mean it develops a layer of scum and eventually it hardens up,” Montague said. “But when I first use it on the press, it feels like velvet.”
Montague creates both realistic images and more abstract images.
“I go back and forth and make about 88 prints of each,” he said. “Once I sell those, they’re gone for good.”
Montague also created his own shrink-wrap machine to protect his works at art festivals.
“I made it with an old Lionel Train transformer and piece of nichrome wire,” he said with a laugh.
Montague began selling his art after meeting a medical illustrator.
“He saw my work and said I should show it,” Montague said. “So I did some art fairs and people bought the prints.
“Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was an art fair every weekend,” he said with a laugh. “Nowadays, only the strong like the Kimball Arts Festival have survived.”
Fred Montague, a member of the Park City Professional Artists Association, will participate in the 47th Park City Kimball Arts Festival that will run from Friday, Aug. 12, to Sunday, Aug. 14, on historic Main Street. For more information, visit http://www.parkcitykimballartsfestival.org. For more information about Fred Montague, visit http://www.mountainbearink.com.
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