Daddy's Christmas Angel

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Who is Monti?

"Monti Just for Fun" ©Monti Sikes

Who is Monti?

As I struggle with branding, I find myself asking that question more and more often.

 Mary Montague Sikes, sometimes Mary Montague Hudson, is the name I sign on my paintings and have listed on the covers of my books. However, most of my friends call me “Monti”.

 Often, that name is used for groups and events. But it interferes with branding my legal name.

 The first day of college, my three roommates decided that Mary Montague was too much of a name for them to say. (Yes, Mary Washington College was overcrowded at the time and had four girls crammed into a room together. They were in the process of building a new dorm complex where we would live for our sophomore year, so we had to make do as freshmen.)

When I went off to elementary school, my mother told me, “Never let anyone call you, “Mary”. I didn’t, and to this day, I tense up when someone addresses me that way. I couldn’t be “Mary”.

One of my college roommates came up with the nickname, “Monti”, and it stuck. More and more people started to use it.

Now I am asking myself what to do. Should I brand two names?

Should I have two websites—one for Mary Montague, the other for Monti?

Is Monti the Passenger to Paradise in my books, set mostly in the Caribbean?

Is she the one who painted the “Monti Just for Fun” series of paintings? If you look at my work, she is indeed the more fun-loving artist.

What do you think? Should I sometimes be Monti? Does that hurt the branding for my real name? Will people know we are the same person?

Who is Monti?

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Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day Starts the Tennis Season

"Tennis Gang" ©Mary Montague Sikes

For many years, I looked forward to Memorial Day and the beginning of the summer tennis season. We usually had tennis tournaments over the weekend, and I played singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. It was so much fun.

Over the years, it became impossible to find others to play singles, so I joined women's doubles groups, and my husband and I drove long distances to play mixed doubles. I never liked doubles as much as singles, and I watch only singles matches in events like the French Open, Wimbledon, etc. 

We've taken tennis lessons and played in tournaments in lots of places, including the Dennis Van Der Meer Center in Hilton Head, South Carolina, at Saddlebrook in Florida, in Palm Springs, California, and many other locations.

When I wasn't on the tennis court, I sometimes painted about my favorite past-time. To the left is one of those 54" x 42" acrylic paintings I created of a group of us. I'm glad I made that painting because now it is a wonderful reminder of all those tennis court days that began on Memorial Day and ended on Labor Day. 

Memories. I can almost feel the hot air and the Virginia humidity.

https://artstore.marymontaguesikes.com

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Lost Along the Way

"TWA" ©MaryMontagueSikes

Somehow, this year, I have become lost along the way in my life and I haven't posted on my blog. The words have not come. I have not been inspired to share my thoughts, although there are many.

In the past, we have been devoted travelers. All my adult life, I have traveled and have often lived looking forward to the next travel adventure. In the past several decades, we usually have had at least four trips a year. The Covid-19 pandemic changed all of that.

Little did we know in early March 2020, when we returned from our annual baseball spring training trip to Jupiter, Florida, that we would not get on an airplane again for another two years.

When we boarded our flight on February 28, 2022, it felt strange to walk up the Jetway. Wearing our masks on two flights seemed strange as well, but we did it. On one of our flights when we landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, I looked out the window and thought we might have gone back in time because a plane was parked at one of the gates with TWA on its tail. That was our favorite airline until it disappeared years ago!

Last October, I spent many hours on the phone and on the computer purchasing and printing tickets for seven St. Louis Cardinals baseball games and for parking for each one. As we traveled, we were excited and hopeful for seeing all of them. But then the lockout continued, and with each passing day, hope dwindled. However, we went to Roger Dean Stadium most days for two weeks. 

We watched John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the Cardinals, as he watched the minor leaguers practice. I saw him get the call probably telling him the major league lockout was over. We were excited to see Jordan Walker, a promising young prospect, hit. We watched other prospects, like Luken Baker and Nolan Gorman, practice. We loved being on the back fields again, being let in without having to get checked as we were in 2020. It was refreshing and exciting. 

My husband chatted with players in the outfield and was tossed a practice ball while waiting by our rental car. Our daughter, Allison, took photos on each of the four fenced fields where the minor league practiced each day. Both of them prefer the back fields to the actual spring training games.

It was not until our final day in Jupiter that the major league players returned. We are home now and watching the games at Roger Dean Stadium from the convenience and comfort of our own TV room.

Perhaps I am no longer lost.

"John Mozeliak Watching" ©MMSikes

"
"Pitchers Wear White" ©MMSikes




"Nolan Gorman Interview" ©MMSikes


https://montisikes.com 

marymontague.artstore.com


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Invictus, My Thoughts for the New Year

©Mary Montague Sikes

 Last week, when I unsealed a lovely card from a friend, a special little paper fell out. On it was printed the words of the poem, "Invictus", written in 1849 by William Ernest Henley. Receiving this small treasure was like opening a door to another dimension and retrieving a message.

The poem was from the papers of the late Dr. Joseph Costa, our friend and my mentor in the field of spirituality. We met Joe many years ago after we heard a radio announcement about a program he was presenting in San Diego. That day we were on vacation, driving from an airport to Palm Springs, California, and somehow that message reached us and drew us into Joe's world.

Connecting with Dr. Costa was a life-changing event. We learned so much and so did Joe when he visited us in our home all the way across the country. He presented programs here and explored the Edgar Cayce facilities in Virginia Beach. One day, he stood behind me at my computer and inspired me to get in touch with the angels.

Years later, we listened to Joe as he spoke to a group about his Alaska adventures when he visited there, many years alone, for a month each August. That remote landscape refurbished him. He was special, full of knowledge that he willingly shared, in person and in the many books that he wrote. 

Having the poem, "Invictus" from Joe's personal things means a great deal to me. Invictus is a Latin word, meaning unconquerable or undefeated. The poem is about facing death with courage.

As I read the last two lines of "Invictus" I felt chills. "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." 

How many times did I listen to my mother reciting those lines? It was as though she, too, was reaching out to me.

For several weeks, I have been pondering words for the New Year.

"I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul."

Those are the words.

Happy New Year!

(Take a look at the painting. It is the detail of a small oil/cold wax that I created intuitively. It seems appropriate to accompany this blog.)

 

https://artstore.marymontaguesikes.com 

www.MontiSikes.com    

 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Magical Enchanted Cards


 About six years ago, I created a series of long narrow paintings, using intense Robert Doak watercolors on heavy weight Yupo. I then cut the paintings into 4" x 6" cards and put them in a plastic envelope. 

That summer, our annual national parks trip was a week-long excursion to Shenandoah National Park. Since the destination was only a few hours away, we drove our car and I had plenty of space to carry what I wanted which included my new cards.

At night, I would spread my little paintings on a sofa in the spacious Massanutten condo we were renting. The images on the cards "spoke" to me in magical ways. I made up names for many of them, and poetry came for each image I named. The graceful swirls of paint revealed hidden secrets and angelic hideaways.

These cards had potential. The touch of them led me into a world of dreams and idealistic thoughts.

This is one of the starlit verses that came to me as I listened to the sounds and the memories of the mountains in old Shenandoah.

The forever stars gleam down on us

And I see a magic rug appear.

Tiny images sail like moonbeams

And messages flash in starlight. 

When we left the park, I zipped the colorful little images up in their bag and put them away until April of this year when I pulled them out to show my publisher. The cards are enchanted, I thought, but I didn't tell her that. Perhaps she discovered their magic for herself when she created a captivating design for many of them


We have a group of 10 cards now that are formatted as special cards for meditation or affirmation. Some of them are available at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond, at A Touch of Earth in Williamsburg, and at Gloucester Arts on Main in Gloucester.

Who knows where these cards will show up next? Perhaps in a box for meditation. They have taken on a life of their own, seeking their own place in the sun.


Mary Montague Sikes

MontiSikes.com