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Michael Montanaro was born and raised on the coastline of Connecticut in the town of Old Lyme, known as the home to American Impressionism. From an early age he took a serious interest in the visual arts and attended classes at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, then studied abroad at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, and earned a Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts from Saint Michael's College in Burlington, Vermont. He has always enjoyed the creative individuality that surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding allowed and he progressed rapidly at all three of them. His abilities to soar in the halfpipe and off east coast cliffs caught the eyes of Burton reps and Michael soon found himself on the professional Burton Snowboard team where he won pro halfpipe and big air events, and landed himself in videos and on many magazine covers. All the while he simultaneously was excelling creatively in the art studio under the tutelage of painter Lance Richbourg and printmaker Greg Blasdell at St. Mikes.
After college Michael moved to Newport, RI and purchased silkscreen equipment to start a small clothing company called Montanaro Designs which featured his drawings on limited edition clothes. Noticing the need for a innovative contemporary art gallery he started Montanaro Gallery in 2006 with his wife Elizabeth. Montanaro Gallery specializes in modern and contemporary visual art works and has included close to one hundred artists including surf artists John Severson, Wade Koniakowsky, Andy Davis, Julie Goldstein, Grant Myrdal, Ty Williams, and east coast emerging talents like Bonzi, Alexander Brown, Luke Lundgren and Adrian Massie to name just a few… while continuing his own art Michael has become an agent and advisor to artists, estates, and clients.
The gallery has been amazing! I have become friends with all the artists I've looked up to. I've had the opportunity to show artists like Jesse Reno, former bassist for Weezer Mikey Welsh, Harold Smith, George Vranesh, Crash One and so many more. It is a dream for sure.
Michael's own art recently earned a commission from Burton Snowboards to design all five Burton Malolo boards with his zen-like asian surf inspiration.
I have always been obsessed with the visual arts beginning at a very young age. It was through the freedom I felt while skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing which helped develop individual style. I learned a lot in school but it was really the art research I did after finishing school and by taking many risks to get to where I am today. There is still so much I want to do and goals I want to achieve in the next few years. Creating more, showing more, and being a good father are my plans for 2008.
Be sure to look for more of Michael Montanaro's works in traveling shows, in magazines, or you can always find some at Montanaro Gallery in Newport, RI. The surf gets pretty good there too!