A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 135

“Security Breach # 2” (2002) in New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taipei

Friday, August 21

It’s Emily’s birthday!

I seem to have tired of writing. So while I am recharging my batteries, allow me to introduce you to an artist whose apartment is down the hall from ours in Manhattan. Steve Montgomery has been dutifully watering our plants during time that he should have devoted to receiving some fancy genius prizes. You can take a look at his sculpture at his website: https://stevenmontgomery.com

Many of the pieces displayed look to have come from some large-machine graveyard. Items that appear like rusted-out or busted metal are in fact ceramic. They may put you in mind of stuff seen in such dystopian movies as Blade Runner or Mad Max. His very large nuts and bolts remind me (perhaps oddly, I admit) of the work of pop sculptor Claes Oldenberg, whose monumental everyday things include colossus-like teddy bears and clothespins. There’s a slightly askew sense of humor at play in Montgomery’s things, along with a notion that corroded and toxic surfaces have their own kind of allure—like that neglected geranium blooming in a coffee can or the waitress at a small-town diner.

Steve’s work has been exhibited around the world—in Japan, China, and Italy, among other places. His pieces are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the de Young museum in San Francisco. But rather than lounging on his Cote d’ Azur-anchored yacht during the current lockdown, Steve has been stuck in Manhattan, frequently biking out to his studio in Williamsburg. Such are the dues required of genius.

Dinner: the Latin meat-and-fruit concoction picadillo, rice, and a lettuce and avocado salad.

Entertainment: the comedy video Trevor Noah, Son of Patricia on Netflix.