See artist Kelsey Montague’s angel wings outside of Tavern on the Gore in Vail
VAIL — Along with the quintessential selfies with the Solaris stage and musical act du jour in the background, add one more item to your photos-to-snap-while-you’re-in-Vail checklist during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. A 10-foot-by-5-foot pair of angel wings, drawn by street artist Kelsey Montague using white acrylic paint pens on a black background, are on display outside of Tavern on the Gore in Vail through the Championships. Think about the most intricate doodles you’ve ever drawn in a notebook during biology, times a thousand. The wings generally take Montague seven or eight hours to draw, she said.
Another pair of Montague’s wings went viral when Taylor Swift stood in front of them in New York City in July and posted a photo on her Instagram feed with Montague’s hashtag: #whatliftsyou. Before Swift, actress-singer Vanessa Hudgens and a few Victoria’s Secret models also posed with the wings, which were painted on a wall in Nolita (north of Little Italy) neighborhood of Manhattan.
“I wanted to do something uplifting and interactive,” Montague said earlier this week in a reception for the artist held at Tavern on the Gore.
The art on the wall changes every four months, so the New York mural is no longer there.
That’s the risk you take with street art, Montague said: It might not last long.
“But it’s a good risk,” she said. “You’re putting yourself out there and then you walk away. It’s hard but deeply worth it.”
PURSUING ART FULL TIME
Montague spent five years living in New York City with her sister and now manager, Courtney. She worked in advertising and most recently was an event planner. She’d pull out her sketchbook and draw in coffee shops to de-stress, she said. But then she got a chance to draw on the wall in Nolita, and the response was enough to convince her to pursue her art full time. She has more than 20,700 followers on Instagram, who she refers to as her “community.”
The sisters recently moved back to Denver, where they grew up, but plan to relocate to Southern California in the near future. Montague’s professional art life has taken off in the past six months, with gigs doing live performance art for clients who bring her in for events. Recently she was at the Alt Summit blogging conference in Salt Lake City, she said, where another pair of freestanding wings served as the backdrop for plenty of photo opps. Montague is just grateful for the chance to pursue what she loves, she said.
Next week the girls will head to Los Angeles, and from there they’ll hop a flight to the other side of the world. Montague has eight mural commissions in New Zealand and Australia. She’ll be busy drawing more wings, along with balloons and kites, she said.
“I want to stick with that concept of what lifts you,” she said.
You can see more of her work on her blog, http://www.kelseymontague.com.
More than a decade and a half ago, Kobe Bryant came to the Vail Valley quietly. Fourteen months later, he left the same way. In the middle was … well … a media circus.