Gene Montez Flores. Landscapes 1980-2018. Opening reception ‒ Turn Park

Gene Montez Flores

Landscapes 1980-2018
Opening reception

In 1957 I was a 22-year-old barista at the Hidden Village Coffee House in Monterey, California, owned by Cuban artist Pio Junco, who gave me my first welding torch and his belief in me. These were my only tools. In Bauhaus style, I worked perfecting the art of flame cutting with the delicacy of a sumi brush, convinced fire and steel were my palette.

Gene Montez Flores

 

Gene Montez Flores (born 1935) grew up in Southern California a few miles from the edge of the Mojave Desert where it meets the San Bernardino Mountains, an elevation of almost 4,000 feet. As a child he camped and hiked, and as a teenager he drove the remote roads and walked the path of the Mojave River. 

A few years later, having studied Architectural Engineering and fallen in love with Japanese architecture, he learned to weld, and he continues to use his flame-cutting torch for his sumi-like lines cut in steel.

In 1965 Flores and his family moved to the high desert outside the tiny town of Tehachapi, California, and built an off-grid cabin on 40 acres where they lived for four years overlooking the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the north and the Mojave Desert to the east.

In 1979, on a lark, Flores moved the family to Tribeca, NYC, into a gritty live/work industrial loft, arriving at the time post-minimalism was accepted and the edge was moving toward appropriation art. Deprived of the beauty of nature, Flores began working on his first steel landscape sculptures; some were highly stylized evocations while others were literal portraits of the desert.

In 1987 Flores and his wife moved to the tiny town of Plainfield in Western Massachusetts; its rock formations and winding streams further inspired his work about the land.