Tuesday, September 7, 2010

José Enrique Montés: 1955-2010 —

Late last Saturday night, I learned that an old friend of mine passed away on August 4th, more than a month earlier. I met José Montés back in the late 90s while drawing with a group of friends at a weekly life-art gathering in Houston. Everybody who knew him would tell you the same thing: "Just a nice guy."

During the years I spent in Houston, I can't tell you how many times José bought lunch or dinner for artist friends who were having trouble making ends meet. He kept no tally, and he never asked for return favors, but everybody paid him back. He had no enemies.

José genuinely enjoyed life, which always mystified me (because I don't.) He was always easy-going and smiling about something. (The only time I ever heard him angry was in a traffic jam once.) He even enjoyed his day job, and often said he wouldn't know what to do with his time if he didn't have it.

José was a dreamer. He was a talented artist (samples HERE), with a great interest in manga and anime, and he always had a pile of drawings in the works. He rarely finished them. His other great interest was Asian women. (If he had lived to see Scott Pilgrim, he would have spent the rest of his life talking about Ellen Wong.) He was the perfect picture of the lonely artist nerd.

If you had a conversation with José, you would hear about two things: his plans to clean his apartment (which was never a mess) and his plans to take a vacation to Mexico (which he never got around to). In fact, in his final journal entry at the above-mentioned art link, he covers those very subjects.

In his youth, José was a full-on hippie, or so he bragged. He says he smoked plenty of pot, but if there were other drugs, I wouldn't know about it. I certainly never saw him drink, ever. Or smoke. His eating habits and general health were quite good, I thought. His younger brother died of obesity in the mid-90s, which made José very aware of his health. He was only 55. I don't know what happened.

According to his remaining brother Herb, it was a sudden heart attack, and another one three days later. While I am sad to lose José, I am glad to learn that he did not linger and suffer. He did not deserve that.

The world is a sadder place without José Montés. We would all be better off if we would relax and try to enjoy every day like he did. I'll try harder.

Goodbye José.


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