With thirty plus years of experience as a community leader, Mal Montoya merges the intersection of art, social equity and economic development into all aspects of his role as President & Chief Executive Officer. In addition to overseeing the fulfillment of MARN’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, he is also overseeing the transformation of MARN’s new headquarters in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. MARN’s new ART + CULTURE HUB will serve as the foundation for expanded programming in support of artists throughout the region. Montoya also serves on the organization’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee.
Son of famed Chicano activist/professor/artist, José Montoya, he grew up in California, where he was frequently on the front lines of significant social change. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, he witnessed firsthand the power of art for social and political change. It was during this time that United Farmworkers leader Cesar Chavez, enlisted the Royal Chicano Air Force, an art collective co-founded by his Dad, to assist the movement to unionize migrant farmworkers. Along with his brothers and sisters, Montoya was regularly called into action to make in support of his Dad’s social justice campaigns.
Reflecting upon his youth, the significance of art for social change was impactful on his development. He spent his formative years silk-screening posters and making frames for his Dad’s artwork or assisting him as he taught art classes to under-privileged youths in inner city barrios and community centers.
His deep desire to assist underserved communities led him to help create one of the first Hispanic owned public relations and advertising firms in California in the late 1980’s. His firm focused on bringing lifesaving services and information to Latino communities throughout California. He followed his passion to Chicago where he worked for a Latino owned bank serving the City’s underbanked minority communities.
Today, Montoya remains active as a creative, utilizing photography and graphic art skills passed on to him by his Dad, who was a college art professor. Upon the passing of his Dad, he proudly worked closely with his family to curate the personal notebooks, drawings, paintings, and writings of his Dad. This work culminated in an installation of 2,000+ hand-picked original works primarily depicting the lives Mexican American migrant farmworkers drawn on paper, over the span of his lifetime. The works were displayed during a special exhibit at the Fowler Museum of Art at UCLA. He is currently working to have this historical collection tour the United States in the years to come.