Color Wheel is a series in which we identify a trending color in art, and post a daily image that illustrates its popularity. In advance of the Sochi Winter Olympics, we’re going to play good patriots and explore red, white, and blue.
It’s hard to leave the limelight. The late Mario Montez is one of the few who willfully escaped from celebrity, rather than letting his star burn out. He rose to underground superstardom in the 1960s as a glamorous drag queen, known for roles in films by the likes of Andy Warhol and Jack Smith. (Here he is in an Andy Warhol set, seductively peeling and eating a banana.)
So what happened to him? Well, in 1977 he decided he’d had enough of the New York life, and left for Florida. For the next couple of decades he lived a normal, non-celebrity life. In 2006 though, he resurfaced after Mary Jordan tracked him down for her documentary film about the late filmmaker Jack Smith, Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis.
The above photo was completed last year, just before Montez passed away. Artist Conrad Ventur (who’s participating in Chance Motives at SculptureCenter this weekend) tracked down Montez to shoot portraits recreating his performances from Warhol movies and the like. This one’s from his “Montezland” series.
And much like Andy Warhol, who was known for having a strong eye for composition, there’s a nice sense of composition here, too. With Montez snaking across the bottom edge, overlapping with the blue-green water, the late star is still incredibly captivating.