Dental Surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Montague & Associates / Founder, The Wedge, Toronto, ON. Born: Windsor, ON.
A graduate of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Kenneth Montague is a full-time dentist, as well as an art collector and curator.
Since opening in 1992, Dr. Montague’s dental office has grown from an initial staff of three to the current dedicated team of twenty, and his patients include some famous faces – like singer Nelly Furtado and actor Russell Crowe. In the late 1990’s, he headed the Communication and Public Education Committee for the Ontario Dental Association, which included the production of a national advertising campaign about dental health.
He is also the founder of Wedge Curatorial Projects, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting contemporary art that investigates Black identity. And is also the owner of the Wedge Collection, which primarily includes historic and contemporary photography, but has recently grown to encompass video work, painting and design.
Recent shows curated by Dr. Montague include Becoming at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit (2008); head room at the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art in Toronto (2008); Always Moving Forward: Contemporary African Photography from the Wedge Collection, a feature exhibition during Toronto’s Photography Festival CONTACT, at Gallery 44 in Toronto (2010); and Position As Desired / Exploring African-Canadian Identity: Photographs from the Wedge Collection currently on view at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. In 2007, Wedge published FLAVA, a 10-year retrospective of projects, exhibitions and community workshops produced over its first decade.
Dr. Montague recently conducted art tours for the African Heritage Educator’s Network at the ROM. He is a frequent speaker and panelist at international art symposiums, including the Bamako Encounters in Mali and ARCO in Madrid. And has been invited to lecture on collecting photography at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal.
Community: Volunteer mentor with Association for the Advancement of Blacks in Health Sciences (since 1994); promotes oral health and careers in dentistry in Toronto schools (since 2003); Founding Member, Coloured Development Fund, a scholarship program for young achievers in the art and design fields (since 1998); former Health Editor, Word Magazine.
Other: Since 2001, has appeared in numerous magazine and online journals, as well as a variety of television programs promoting dental health, including including the CTV NEWS TONIGHT with Marcia Macmillan; Health Update with Karl Kabasele (CityTV); Diagnosis MD (OLN); Much On Demand (MuchMusic); MTV Live (MTV Canada); The Stephen & Chris Show (CBC); interviews on WTN to promote awareness of dental health issues (1995); The New Music on Citytv; and This is Daniel Cook (Treehouse). From 1995-2008, he produced an annual music compilation album featuring local and international artists.
Affiliations: Member, Photography Curatorial Committee, Art Gallery of Ontario; Advisory Board member, Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre.
Honours: Including University of Toronto’s list of Alumni 40 & Under Taking the World by Storm, (2001); “Extra” Creative Award, for producing an original advertising campaign (1994); Citizenship Award, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto (1987); voted by NOW Magazine readers have consistently chosen him as their favourite dentist & he has won their annual “Best of Toronto” readers poll multiple times over the years. Received a national arts honour, the SOCAN’s Patron of Music Award, for “recognizing the value and importance of music” (2006).
Reviewed in: National Post; Toronto Life; University of Toronto Alumni Magazine (2001); Maclean’s; Flare; WW of Executives & Professionals of North America.
Education: Doctor of Dental Surgery, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto (1987).
Favourite book? White Teeth by Zadie Smith. A thrilling, brilliantly conceived Jamaican-British immigrant story, this unforgettable debut novel signalled a new type of storytelling that validated my own thoughts around hybridity in culture. Despite the book’s title seeming right up my alley, please know that the dental reference is just co-incidental!
Favourite quote? “One bite can’t nyam mango.” – A Jamaican proverb, suggesting that it takes time to do something well (nyam = consume).
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Establish a centre for the study of African-Canadian art and culture.
Who inspires you? My parents. Their struggles and successes were my foundation.
Why do you do what you do? My cousin is a dentist in Jamaica; seeing his role in the local community was inspiring and led me towards a career in healthcare. Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, I felt like an island – and my early exposure to the arts (via museum visits, etc.) helped develop my sense of identity. Today, I feel privileged to own a bustling Toronto dental clinic as well as a collection of art that speaks to my personal journey – and touches everyone in unpredictable ways. I am driven by the dynamic of this dual career; the balance is difficult but rewarding.