Gallery with a Cause hosting 'On the Rise' exhibit through Aug. 19 - Albuquerque Journal

Gallery with a Cause hosting ‘On the Rise’ exhibit through Aug. 19

“Sudden Thoughts,” Derrick Montez, 2019, ink and colored pencil, 8×6 inches.

Derrick Montez carries a backpack everywhere he goes.

He stashes his drawing pad, pencil and ink inside, sketching while he waits for appointments and picking up the kids from school.

“I’ve been making ink drawings for about 10 years now,” the Albuquerque artist said. “These drawings are made up out of thin air.”

Montez is one of 18 artists exhibiting their work in the New Mexico Cancer Center’s Gallery with a Cause, creating everything from portraits and landscapes to pure abstraction.

The exhibition features 480 pieces, including pastel, photography, collage, painting and wood. Forty percent of the proceeds go to the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation. The organization raises funds for patients’ nonmedical needs, such as utility bills, child care, food and housing.

“The highlights in this show are paper collages on canvas, bead work, some very soft and painterly photography, some funky and folky wood sculptures, and some very cool textured abstracts,” curator Regina Held said. “Two of the artists are retired military, and, as is the case with all of my shows, a lot of the artists are cancer survivors.”

Montez is known for work that blends the surreal with the figurative. He has created large-scale murals across the city.

The artist moved here from Los Angeles in 1992.

“After the riots, L.A. was so bad,” he said. “And I love New Mexico.”

His drawing “Sudden Thoughts” combines ink and colored pencil in a startled apparition orbited by falling droplets. He says the portrait is of no one in particular.

“Almost all of my work now has circles or spheres incorporated into the painting,” he said. “They’re like souls or spirits – these are all thoughts coming out.”

Montez credits a teacher with encouraging his artistic pursuits.

“I had difficulty at school,” he said. “I was getting in trouble. The art teacher took me under her wing. She told me I was an artist.

“I always loved Edward Hopper’s work,” he added. “I was part of the Chicano Group in L.A. I learned how to do murals with them.”

Montez was briefly a member of the renowned Wayne Healy and David Botello mural team East Los Streetscapers. He also participated in the “L.A. Nuevo” exhibition in East L.A. He recently exhibited a portrait series at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Gallery With A Cause hosts four exhibitions annually, usually aligned with the seasons, Held said. About half the artists in the exhibit have shown there before.

“We actually lose money on the art,” Held said. “The primary reason to have art in there is to create a beautiful, healing, meditative space for our patients and to lift the morale of the staff.”

The exhibition usually raises between $6,000 and $12,000 per show, she added.

Held is the former owner, founder and director of Matrix Fine Art and New Grounds, a nontoxic print facility in Nob Hill.

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