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Self-Taught Art
Folk Artists

Jessie Montes
Born in Mexico

Jessie Montes: ElvisJessie Montes is a western Kansas folk artist who creates his artwork from corrugated paperboard. He is an extraordinary example of the phenomenon of a sweeping all-consuming and obsessive involvement with art-making that can overtake a person at any time, at any age and with no apparent warning. With no schooling in art, and no previous history of art-making, Mr. Montes creates complex visual statements with simple materials.

Montes, a retired custodial worker, has been creating two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art from corrugated cardboard since 1990.

Over 40 years ago Jessie Montes, the only survivor of five sets of twins, migrated to the United States from Mexico. Having no formal education, Montes worked as a custodian for the Dodge City school district. When Montes' son and daughter were called to duty for the Persian Gulf War, he quickly tried to find a way to relax. "One day I just started cutting cardboard," said Montes. "I eventually made a picture frame for my sons photograph," said Montes. Soon Montes started to experiment with different designs and themes.

Montes' tools consist of cardboard cut in 1/4 inch strips, tweezers, a sharp razor blade, and paste. Montes' subject matter include mixtures of ethnic and social influences, architectural themes, and popular culture references. The work varies from portraiture to landscape, it sometimes includes architecture and it always functions as excellent abstraction. In other words, the work is totally consistent, but also has incredible range.


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