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Guelph artist uses pandemic to complete 200 mini collages (2 photos)

Originally part of the now-cancelled Guelph Studio Tour, Eric Allen Montgomery is among the artists currently featured in a preview show at the Red Brick Cafe

A Guelph artist has completed a project as a way to pass time during the pandemic by creating 200 individual pieces he calls his ‘*mini ART bars* of Quarantine.’

Eric Allen Montgomery is a jeweller and large-scale sculptor. He said neither of those disciplines were particularly appealing to him when the pandemic shutdown began in March.

“The really intricate requirements of my jewellery work was kind of too much for my brain and the scale of my large pieces was too much, I just couldn’t think of taking on any big projects,” said Montgomery. “I was just trying to find something simple and easy to do because trying to work on big projects or complicated things just hasn’t really been where my head has been at.”

He looked to a vintage 1940s vending machine that he purchased about two years ago as inspiration for the project.

“I have been making tiny art that would get dispensed from this machine as my way of trying to keep myself sane the last couple of months,” said Montgomery. 

It took about five months for Montgomery to complete 200 of the one-inch by four-inch collages, each one different than the last. Each mixed media piece on medium-density firebird (MDF) is sized to fit in the vending machine, which was originally made to fit candy bars.

“Back in March we didn’t know if this was going to last a couple of weeks or forever, and I just started puttering at them and 200 was an arbitrary number that seemed a long way away and yet reachable,” said Montgomery. “I just finished them this week after five weeks of chipping away at them here and there.”

Montgomery will have a show in the future in which the *mini ART bars* will be placed in the vending machine and people can spend about $20 to have it dispense a collage at random.

“This has been a nice way to have little tiny fun things to keep me positive moving forward,” he said.

For the past four years, Montgomery has been the curator for the rotating art shows at the eBar and Green Room above The Bookshelf. 

“Just as we were about to hang the spring shows in March, of course everything shut down,” said Montgomery.

Recently, the Red Brick Cafe contacted Montgomery about hosting an early preview for artists that were to be featured in the Guelph Studio Tour, which has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

The ‘200 *mini ART bars* of Quarantine’ project is not currently on display at the Red Brick Cafe, but other works by Montgomery are, as well as works by Oxanna Adams, Barbara Bryce, Laurie Skantzos, Vickie Martin, Dawn Anderson Vaughn, Laurie McGaw and others.

“This is the second year that the Guelph Studio Tour has had a preview show at the Red Brick Cafe,” said Montgomery. “Normally it’s just for the month leading up to the tour, but because they are just reopening their doors after many months of closure, they reached out to us and asked if we would like to come in a month and a half early and do the the favour of having something fresh on the walls.”

“Because we are not having a physical tour this year, that does us the extra favour of having a much longer chance to play show and tell,” he added. “It’s such a good way to share with the community and I think people are hungry for it — not just the option to go out and have a coffee, but to go into an environment of seeing cool stuff on the walls that was made by local artists.”