The creator of the tequila bottle inspired chessboard tabletop is Lt. Brandon Montgomery, a Supply Corps officer currently serving as Supply Officer for Commander, Helicopter Strike Maritime Wing Pacific (CHSMWP). He won the "Art of Patron" art contest with his sculptural piece, "Batalla de los Espiritus," this past June.
Imagine sitting across from your opponent, the only thing separating you is a silver and gold-checkered board. In front of you are 32 clear, small bottles with hand-carved corks representing figures such as kings, queens, bishops and knights. A crystal clear etched-glass tabletop adorns the chessboard, held high by four empty tequila bottles.
"Art is my passion," he explained. "When I'm not at work, I am constantly balancing my free time with my art career." He is no stranger to the art community. Lt. Montgomery graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture. This is the first time he has had the opportunity to showcase his art in a national, public forum.
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Lt. Brandon Montgomery’s award-winning artwork!
Lt. Montgomery added that he wouldn't have known about the contest without a little help from a family member. "My mother first told me about the contest," he said. "She has always supported my art career and was ecstatic when I told her I won."
He went to more than 35 bars looking for empty tequila bottles that he could cut down and carve into the tabletop chessboard. He even rented specialized equipment to cut and mold the glass. For the corks, he hand-painted and carved them into chess pieces.
"I spent more than 70 hours working on this piece," Lt. Montgomery said. "The exposure I received through this contest has given me the opportunity to be a part of a world-class label."
His shipmates have also supported his passion of art. "He's got a real talent," said Lt. Michael Agojo, CHSMWP assistant supply officer. "I have been pushing and pushing for him to get his artwork published. He loves art; it is his passion. It's great for him and his art career to win this contest."
For winning first place, Lt. Montgomery received a monetary prize, and he said he plans to give a portion to his mother and the rest will go toward supporting future art projects. “Sculpture, furniture design and art in general have been a passion of mine for a long time,” he explained. “I currently work on paintings, photography and sculpture in my spare time, and do not plan on slowing down anytime soon. I would like to, eventually, be a full-time artist.”
By MC2(SW/AW) Derek Stroop; Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, San Diego