Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pat Monk: Hollin Hills' 90 Year-Old Picasso

I've been knocking doors for the last month in the new parts of the 44th District. Although I've lived here pretty much my entire life, you never know what you'll find when you start walking around.

This past weekend, I was walking down Brentwood Place in Hollin Hills when I came across the home of Gaines "Pat" Monk. Mr. Monk is a 90 year-old retired nuclear physicist who was born in the coalfields of West Virginia in 1921.
Around the time I was born (40 years ago), he decided to get into modern art. In 1974 (when I was 3), he moved into the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria.
I walked into his yard which is pretty much a sculpture garden. It has a little sign out front next to the stump of a magnolia tree that he turned into a sculpture that says "Sculpture Garden is Open to All.  Welcome."  Pat said that he put it up because he was tired of people leering at his yard from the street and he didn't really care if they walked around. 

We talked for a few minutes about why I was running, redistricting, and about how he had eeked out a living selling modern sculpture. He invited me to walk around, but I was in a hurry to finish out a few more doors because the sun was setting, but I came back the next morning and walked around. It was really astonishing. I've put the pictures I took below. 
After talking to his neighbors, I poked around and found his website and read about his prior career working on the A-bomb at Oak Ridge, TN and infrared spectrometers.

You never know what you will learn by walking around and getting to know your neighbors. I hope I am lucky enough to have a 40+ year second-career after I turn fifty!


  1. Thanks for posting - we lived next door to the Monks (at 2413 Brentwood) from about 1957-70; my parents bought the lot and built and added over the years. It's great that Pat is still going at it.

  2. Great memories for me. We lived on Brentwood Place for about 7 years in the sixties until we moved to a larger house just a short distance away. Though I no longer live in Fairfax County, I love to drive through Hollin Hills whenever possible. Each time, I'm delighted to see the sculptures. Kudos to Pat Monk for sharing his art so freely with all who pass by.

  3. Mr Monk has passed away
    Im sad to say
    He knew a great deal
    I brought him his steel
    From Potomac Steel and Supply
    Up in the Heavenly sky
    Now he rest
    With the best
    In the Creator who molded him from on high

  4. So sad to hear of Pat's death. We lived next door to him and Dee for 30 years. They were great neighbors and when we left to move to Portland Oregon to be close to our kids and grandkids, Pat offered to give us a piece of his sculpture. What a generous and wonderful offer! We wandered his yard for hours and finally chose an aluminum torso on a wooden base with a copper umbrella on top. It seemed the appropriate piece for rainy Oregon. We love it and it sits proudly on our front porch. We get many admiring comments from guests and passer-bys. We will always have fond memories of Pat.