Kenneth Montague’s home speaks volumes about his passion: collecting and living with what he loves
“I’ve come around to the green,” says Kenneth Montague about the striking hue of his new home, which is defined in part by its open-air walkways painted a brilliant chartreuse – a detail that architect David Peterson of DP Studio insisted upon.
“Peterson thinks Toronto is afraid of colour, and I love the strategic injection of it,” Montague says. Looking around his living room at the mix of mid-century furniture, high-octane paintings and throw pillows made from African textiles, you see what he means. “There’s the subdued modernist palette, and then you hit it hard with colour. I call it a contemporary take on African-influenced modernism,” he says. Taking in the photographs that cover the walls of the bathroom, bedroom and hallways, it’s clear that this is not just the well-appointed home of one of the city’s best-known celebrity dentists: Numbered pushpins beneath each painting and photograph point to the fact that you’re also inside the headquarters of Wedge Curatorial Projects.
Montague’s parallel career as a curator took off when he began displaying the work of unknowns he was fascinated with, predominantly photographs by black artists, in the triangular foyer of his previous home. Like these artists, he too was wedging his way into the art world. His Wedge Collection now circulates through an international network of galleries. “It’s not only about black artists,” he says about the collection, which numbers in the hundreds, “but about telling stories that focus on the black identity.”
Dentistry and art – it’s a surprising combination, but Montague comes by his artistic sensibility naturally. There’s a story behind every object in his two-storey home, often a familial one that speaks to his fascination with individuality and the collision of cultures. “A lot of this furniture is from my childhood,” he says, gesturing to the teak dining set that he’s mixed with Eames sofas and a Noguchi coffee table.
He started collecting at the age of 10, when he was given a set of salt-and-pepper shakers crafted by his father, a shop teacher with a background in industrial arts. Running the gamut from high modernism to kitsch, his collection of shakers now covers an entire wall in his kitchen. In the living room is another prized grouping; colourful prints by famous sculptor Alexander Calder. These came to Montague from his Aunt Edith, a civil rights advocate in the United States who befriended many artists, including Calder.
Montague worked closely with the building’s architect, David Peterson, to customize the space in a way that would showcase his evolving collections. Now the new home is a larger realization of the original Wedge gallery. Peterson considered the width of a hallway on the first floor to create an intimate gallery for photographs, and concealed the track lighting. Together, the two brought artistry to the exterior, where the building’s elevator shaft sits in the middle of the rooftop garden. Adding a sauna on one end of the structure and an outdoor kitchen on the other, Montague has created another spectacular space with its own story to tell.
Originally published in our Spring 2012 issue as The Collector.