For this family of artists, it's not a question of Nature vs.
Nurture, but rather a positive equation of one plus the
other. Martin "Marty" Montag surely passed along some
of his aesthetic sensibilities to his daughters, Lisa Brotman
and Jane Joseph, via genetics. But equally important was the
quality time he spent with them, often while working from his inhome
Lisa thinks back on these times with fondness. "I remember as
a very young child being in my father's studio and asking him to
draw something-a dog or a clown or whatever-and with a blank
piece of paper and a few strokes he would make an image appear.
The magic and the excitement of that stayed with me forever."
Years later, Lisa would pursue her own career as a professional
artist, creating large oil paintings primarily of the female figure
over decorative, fantastical backgrounds. She has been a working
artist in the D.C. area since 1971 and is currently represented by
Gallery Neptune in Bethesda, as well as the Charles Street Gallery
in Beaufort and the Filling Station in Bluffton. "She's a better
painter than I," insists her father. But the truth is that he had a
very successful career as a commercial artist, throughout which he
continued to create art for personal fulfillment as well.
"I enjoyed my work," said Marty, who sketched figure drawings
and painted portraits when he wasn't doing commercial art. "I
had lots of nice people I worked for-Time Life, Newsweek, EstÈe
Lauder-I freelanced for forty-five years in New York City."
Marty's wife was an attorney, and together they made a rather
progressive couple at a time when few women worked and men
weren't expected to take an active interest in parenting like sitting
in the carpool line. "I think my father played a much more
contemporary role," said Lisa. "It was really very significant in
communicating the individuality of people. You carve out your
own niche in life without playing the prescribed role, and I think
that gave my sister and I unique approaches to our careers and
ideas about what we could do."
While Lisa was seeking her fortune with paintbrush in
hand, Jane became a math major at Cornell University and
was recruited by IBM, back when few women held jobs in the
technology industry. Despite her strong scientific orientation, she
always maintained an interest in the arts and now sits on the
board of the Hilton Head Art League.
"Dad moved here when he was 86, and at that age it can be
difficult to get integrated into a new community," said Jane. "I
would go with him to openings, and eventually I was asked to
join the board. I've always liked art, but this is the first time I've
done anything active in the arts. I'm using my business skills to
help the Art League."
These days at age 92, Marty continues to paint several times a
week from his home in a retirement community on Hilton Head.
"I can sit in my studio for three or four hours at a time and enjoy
every minute of it," he said. "I have thirty paintings hanging in the
club, and I've done about a half-dozen portraits of people here."
When Lisa's daughter Erica was born, she became the third
generation raised in close proximity to the arts. Now thirty years
old with a two-year-old daughter of her own (who, by the way, is
already drawing pictures and exhibiting a strong fascination with
artistic materials) Erica has a degree in art history and fine arts,
and her work is also represented by Gallery Neptune.
Whether artists or scientists, Marty's progeny honors the lessons
he taught by example, and they pursue their chosen careers
with confidence and pride. "There's a thread of creativity-and
encouragement of creativity-in our family that can affect any
field," concludes Lisa. "You learn to have openness."