“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. “ -Kurt Vonnegut

I recently confronted some things I’d swept under the mental rug up at Chesler Park 3, deep in the back country of Canyonlands National Park. Maybe it was the 7 mile hike with a heavy pack, but walking into the juniper grove where I was introduced to backpacking felt like an acid trip. The patch of sand where she set her tent, the dead junipers I hung my hammock, even the rocks we used as a dining room were all in perfect order. I’m not sure how long I sat there listening to the ravens squawking in the late afternoon sun, struggling to understand the swirling feeling in my stomach. There was just enough time to scratch another mandala into the sand, three years after the first, before the storm rolled in.

As surreal and painful as it was to return, it was cathartic to finally accept that my actions directly caused the end of that relationship. Perhaps it’s childish, but the drive to prove people wrong is one of the most potent sources of fuel I’ve found. I’m grateful for the time we spent together, but even more so for the three years after that helped mold me into the person I am today.

Moab Arts Festival 2019

I recently set up my first pop-up gallery over Memorial Day Weekend at the Moab Arts Festival. I have set up booths in the past where I was selling prints out of a crate, but this was the first time I had a physical gallery space that people could walk through and view large pieces. It was an interesting experience, to say the least.

I had sixteen different images printed on metal, and those images dominated my booth space. Four images were standard poster size at 24”x36”, and twelve were slightly smaller at 16”x24”. The overall feel was a bit surreal: it was a powerful experience for me to see a physical representation of the last two years of my life. (The layout can be seen on my Instagram profile, @chrisalanmonte, under the pinned stories.) I positioned the larger prints towards the front, which helped draw people into the gallery space. I was extremely grateful for the amount of foot traffic that my pop-up gallery received, and for all the kind words that were said about my work. I was also blown away by the number of business cards that I handed out, which was something I didn’t have the first time I participated in an art fair.

As much as I tried to temper my expectations, I may have gone into the weekend overly optimistic. Perhaps it was the demographics of the venue, but it seemed that most people were interested in purchasing smaller items. While the pop-up gallery was certainly impressive, I may have hamstrung myself in that regard. I had multiple groups ask about smaller pieces, and then flat out tell me that they weren’t interested in paper prints of any size after seeing the metal ones. I can’t blame them.

Perhaps the stereotypes about artists being lousy salesmen are true, but it was an incredible learning opportunity. By sheer luck, I was neighbors with Erica Collins (https://www.ericacollinsartist.com/) and was able to pick her brain a little each day. After seeing the booth that she put together, it was clear that she had been working at art fairs for a very long time. One thing that jumped out at me was the variety of her inventory. It seems like each time I participate in an art event, I do something a little bit different, and then have leftovers for the next event. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the most important thing that I learned is that it’s incredibly important to stick with it, and your inventory will slowly expand over time.

Left Brain Ramblings

I’m going to start rambling in here more often. This is part one.

“It’s easy to live for others: everybody does. I call on you to live for yourselves.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Over the last eight years I’ve been spending a lot of energy considering the type of life I’d like to lead. I told myself that my 20’s should be a time to explore potential paths, to see as many different forks in the road as I possibly can in order to make the most informed decision. While I’ve done a decent job exploring paths, I can’t say that I’ve done as well when it comes to shaking off the cultural apparatus. Far more often than I’d like to admit, I catch myself using a cultural pattern to rank the different paths rather than my own brain. If there’s one practice I could master, it would be silencing cultural interference in my thought process.

The fact of the matter is that we are all operating on borrowed time. To live for anyone other than ourselves is a misuse of a nonrenewable resource. With this in mind, I’ve tried to structure my life in a way that feels more skillful. It’s still a work in progress, but deep down I know the changes I have yet to make.

I guess I’m writing this in order to help push myself further in that direction. Stability may be the most addictive behavior I’ve come across in 28 years, but it sure does stunt your growth. There’s something to be said about putting yourself in a sink or swim situation, and I think it’s time I did.

Some restructuring I’ve done:

  • I work two jobs to fund the dream of sustaining myself with photography

  • I don’t pay rent, I live in my car

  • I try to shoot my camera every day, preferably at sunrise or sunset

  • I work my cardiovascular system every day

  • I stopped putting trash fuel into my body

  • I stopped working for companies that do more harm than good

Some restructuring I know I need to do:

  • Invest part of my savings into inventory

  • Quit spending so much time outside my passion

Under Construction

Hi:

I know it's looking a little bare right now.

I'm currently overwhelmed by the potential of this form of media. Please be patient with me while I learn the ropes and flesh out the site. I have big dreams of backpacking guides, photography tips, and gear reviews.

Thanks again for taking the time to look through my work,

Chris Alan Monte