GENESEE COUNTY — In a world full of differences, art has an uncanny ability to unite people from all over, and Cinthia Montague, Carrie Tourgee and Lois Schneider are living proof of that.
All from different areas — Montague from Flint, Tourgee from Davison and Schneider from Goodrich — each found their lives have become intertwined because of art, and now they are working together to put on an unforgettable display of wearable art called Elemental Fashions for this month’s Flint Art Walk.
Always the second Friday of the month for the past 11 years, the Flint Art Walk draws in about 3,000 participants interested in seeing the various showcases of artists from all around Genesee County.
For Schneider, co-owner of the Yoga Loft and SHARP Fitness in downtown Flint, which she runs with her daughter Allore Sharp, offering her space to local artists for the art walk is her way of pushing them to succeed in an environment packed with people willing to offer criticism.
“An artist doesn’t just want to hear that their piece is good, they want to know why it is good,” said Schneider, whose business has featured artists monthly since moving to Flint in 2008. “It’s very exciting. There are a lot of young artists in the community whose talents are undiscovered. If I can be a part of getting them discovered, then I am happy to help.”
This month, Schneider will lend her space out to Montague, 20, an art major at Mott Community College whom she meet through Tourgee. “I was walking my dogs and I saw Carrie taking photographs of Cinthia,” Schneider said. “I noticed Cinthia right away. I wasn’t close enough to really see what she was wearing, but she had confidence and I love that in young people. So many people hang their heads, but she had a very soft confidence that is a real thing of beauty.”
A budding photographer, Tourgee was taking pictures of Montague modeling her own clothes to use as promotional pieces for Montague’s unique fashion artistry, Elemental Fashions, for the upcoming Flint Art Walk.
After that meeting, Tourgee suggested Schneider and Sharp’s business space as the place to host Montague’s clothing displays.
“Yoga and art are both so open and freeing and with the space being outside I thought it was a perfect fit. It was so Cinthia,” Tourgee said. “Cinthia’s designs are wearable art. They are like nothing you’ve ever seen before with all different materials, not just cloth.”
In total, Montague will have 12 locals on pedestals posing as “human mannequins” wearing her clothing and jewelry designs and a motorcycle exhaust pipe chair she welded together on display from 7-9 p.m. on Sept. 9 right outside Yoga Loft and SHARP Fitness, 555 S. Saginaw St. in Flint.
“In high school painting was my thing,” Montague said. “ Then I made my prom dress and things just went from there. I make jewelry too and in college is when I got into furniture design.”
Montague said her wearable art will be made of all different types of materials, such as wood, upholstery fabrics, plastics, paper mache, neck ties and vinyl, and center around an earthy theme.
“Some of my designs are from two or three years ago and then I have a few new pieces too,” Montague said. “My wood dress is the heaviest though. It weighs about as much as a big piece of plywood.”
She will call on her mother to style hair and friend, Emily Beckley, for the make-up design.
“ There is a lot of creative people here and it amazes me,” Tourgee said. “It’s like why don’t people know about you. That is why this is so important to get the word out about this art walk. It feels wonderful, exciting and secure down here.” Also featuring art and artists at the art walk are a number of downtown businesses including St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Garibella, Soyla’s, Pages Bookstore, Buckham Gallery and The Flint Crepe Company. The Flint Public Art Project, which is a group that goes around illuminating abandoned buildings in areas people do not normally go or see while out on the town, will also be on hand for the event.
Schneider said she hopes that what the art walk artists, and Montague specifically, are doing will help create more retail business in downtown Flint.
While Montague said she does fashion more for fun and would really like to get more into furniture design, she said she will do more shows in the future and is looking forward to taking custom orders from those interested in her work.
Plans for a mid-winter runway show in the heart of downtown Flint that will feature Montague’s designs are in the works.
For more information on the Flint Art Walk, contract The Greater Flint Arts Council at 810-238-2787.