Licking County News

Couple's artwork reflects humor and whimsy

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Juliette Montague and Greg Stange's "Scuba Diver," a piece combining found objects with a tile wall hanging, will be among the works featured in their March exhibit at the Hayley Gallery in New Albany.(Left) Juliette Montague's "Toss the Bunny" shadow box is a mixed-media piece incorporating hand-stitched leather and fabrics.
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Artwork by Greg Stange and Juliette Montague, Worthington residents and owners of StangMont Design, will be featured in a March display at the Hayley Gallery in New Albany.

The display will feature the combined work of the husband and wife, as well as each one's individual works, all of which includes a lot of humor and whimsy.

"I think their art will resonate with so many people," said Hayley Deeter, owner of Hayley Gallery.

Deeter said when she first saw their work, she thought, "Monty Python meets Andy Warhol."

"My husband says the conversation about whether a soup can is art was settled long ago," Montague said, laughing. "We like to make funny, humorous sculptures -- things that you can have on your desk or on a wall and they'll give you a giggle every morning, we hope."

Many familiar objects are components of the mixed-media pieces featured in the show, including kitchen utensils, soup cans, old toys, shrink plastic and pieces of leather, said Montague, a teacher at New Albany High School.

"We use stuff that is -- we call it -- 'upcycled,' " Montague said. "It's the flotsam and jetsam of society."

The couple has been featured in two books: Humor in Craft by Bridgette Martin and 1,000 Ideas for Creative Reuse by Garth Johnson.

When they met, Montague was a student at the Columbus College of Art and Design and Stange was soon to be an accountant. They worked together in German Village and have been married 21 years.

Though Stange's background wasn't in art, Montague said, he started creating things in their Worthington home, building cabinets for the kitchen, designing and building a greenhouse and a screened-in porch.

"He was always interested in art but wasn't encouraged," she said.

Today, they create garden sculptures and individual projects, such as handbags.

Montague said she "upcycles" leather for the handbags from a furniture manufacturer in North Carolina that was throwing away last year's colored leather.

Montague is the queen of scrounging, also collecting unused stickers from doctor's offices and other unique items which she takes into her art classes at New Albany High School and encourages students to use.

"It makes it different for me that I teach," she said. "I feel that keeps me renewed. I like that it's an idea generator and I try to bring my work as an artist and a teacher to the students, showing them that one doesn't discount the other."

Deeter said she's had several StangMont pieces on display in the gallery since December and they are selling well.

"I'm thrilled about it, that they're getting so much recognition," she said. "It's great recognition that's so richly deserved."

Deeter said this is the first time she's dedicated a gallery exhibit to mixed media and it's the first time Montague and Stange have shown their individual pieces along with their collaborative works.

The show opens Saturday, March 16, with an artists' reception from 5 to 9 p.m.

Hayley Galley is at 270 E. Main St. (Johnstown Road) in New Albany and features the works of 60 local artists.

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