EL SEGUNDO ART WALK – How Sir Henry the Octopus came to El Segundo Brewing Company

EL SEGUNDO ART WALK – How Sir Henry the Octopus came to El Segundo Brewing Company

by Mark McDermott

Sir Henry the Octopus first came to life at El Segundo High School.

His benefactor, Casey Montz, was a student at ESHS and possessed a natural artistic gift. One day, an AP art teacher announced a special assignment. Students were asked to make 12 different pieces of art from a single theme. As his fellow students began plotting all sorts of deep and profound topics, Montz sat there, at a loss. He had no idea what to create.

His question simmered in his mind as he made his way to other classrooms. A hard scribbler, he found his pencil moving almost on its own, climbing into each class, as if searching for something. Then finally, in biology class, something came out of the scribbles. He had a big head, and the arms kept growing until there were eight.

Sir Henry the Octopus had arrived.

“I ended up doodling for the next two weeks,” Montz said. “And then I thought, ‘There are these nice pieces, I like these nice photographic ideas… It would be kind of funny to see this image of everyday life, but it’s an octopus, living this normal life. As a human being, basically.”

Sir Henry began life with watercolor sketches – “Because he was a creature of the sea, basically,” Montz said – of him standing in line at an In-N-Out Burger, at work in an office (phone at one tentacle, a cylinder tank in another, office basketball in another) and heading to the beach by bus (holding a newspaper in two tentacles, coffee in another).

“He had a tank at the time, an H2O tank instead of an oxygen tank so he could survive, basically,” Monds said. “And then, over the years, I had him slowly acclimate to normal air. So now he doesn’t have a tank, but he still lives on the land, on land, hanging out.”

Montz graduated from ESHS in 2014 and Sir Henry graduated with him.

“Like a little buddy,” said Mods, “in bad times and good times.”

In the following years, Sir Henry began to appear further afield, as Montz allowed him to entertain himself differently – he was in films, for example, drifting alongside his cast Dazed and confusedwearing a cowboy hat and holding Buzz Lightyear around the neck by a tentacle inside Toy Story 2and channeling Ferris Bueller – sunglasses, hat and raincoat – standing cool next to the ’61 Ferrari 250 Spyder he famously borrowed and crashed in that movie.

Sir Henry in ESBC’s new series Octo can. Illustration courtesy of Casey Montz

But this year, Sir Henry finally gets a starring role. Montz will be a featured artist at the El Segundo Art Walk and Sir Henry will be doing a live performance during ESAW at El Segundo Brewing Company, where Henry has been hired as a very different summer intern and is gracing their cans new line of “Octo Pack” preparations.

Montz likens it to a rock star’s first major record deal.

“We finally signed,” he said. “And that’s the big album cover.”

It’s something that’s been brewing for a long time. ESBC’s Eli Buck, whose official title is Dream Weaver (art director/marketing director), first heard of Sir Henry when he was still a very young octopus.

“I met Casey about eight years ago when he was serving olive oil at DeLuca,” Buck recalled. “Super nice kid, he had a great energy about him and he mentioned his art – he must have been 17 or 18 and he tells me about this octopus that lives on land. At the time, the octopus was carrying around this tank and I thought that was so clever.”

El Segundo being El Segundo, Buck and Montz stayed in touch, running into each other in town. Montz’s brother Riley bought the Richmond Bar & Grill and Casey started working there. Buck, like most people in town, was regular.

By this time, Sir Henry the Octopus had taken on a life of his own. It had become part of a mural and eventually made its way onto social media. Henry had followers. Friends, acquaintances and regulars at Richmond Bar & Grill often asked where Henry was.

“They were like, ‘What’s he going to do next?’ What’s his next move?” recalls Mods.

Buck continued to follow Montz’s art—the ongoing adventures of Sir Henry, of course, but also the design work Montz began doing as a student at Santa Monica College and later for commercial clients who needed logos and other design help. After a few years, Buck asked Montz to design a T-shirt for ESBC. He would eventually design several ESBC shirts. Some were elegantly decorated with the town’s water tower and the three telltale smokestacks that announce El Segundo from the beach, others were pure Christmas.

“He really nailed it, making the city represent the colors,” Buck said. “And they just had that kind of modern vintage look that we love. He absolutely nailed it.”

By early summer, as ESBC was designing a new line of beers in which its brewers could get as creative as they wanted, Buck realized the time had come. Not only would Sir Henry be featured on the cans of all three beers in the series, but the beers would also be named in his honor – the Octo Series trilogy. The first of the beers, an Old School DIPA, was released on July 22nd. On the box, Sir Henry is seen hard at work, the beer’s recipe in a notebook in front of him as he reads the Beer Paper at his workbench, one tentacle on the canning line, another on the other side of the brewery, stacking four packs.

Buck said it’s no exaggeration to call Henry a star trainee. He is a complex multi-tasker.

“Some of the classic small-town story,” Buck said. “You know, he got a great job at the local business. And business is going well, and so is he. So we are delighted to have Sir Henry on board.”

The Octo Series will follow Henry’s journey through his practice, from brewing, to canning, to working at the bar table.

“When you have a bartender with eight arms, you can pour a lot of beers at once,” Buck said.

Henry has branched out in other directions as well. Montz’s dad, Wayne, is a woodworker, and for the past few years they’ve been working together – Sir Henry the Octopus appears, with stunning elegance, on woodwork panels.

Modz is beginning to realize that Sir Henry has also taken root in his life. This octopus is here to stay.

“I think he’s going to be my friend for quite some time,” Modz said. “The cool thing is that this started as something in high school, and it started as a doodle, and it just keeps growing. Incorporating my father into it was really cool. “Just going through the years, there are more opportunities and more ways to express Sir Henry.”

The El Segundo Art Walk is on August 27th, Saturday night, but some festivities will begin on Friday. Montz will be at the brewery that night, but there is some question as to whether Sir Henry can make it. A strong rumor suggests, however, that Henry will be at ESBC on Saturday night.

“I hope Sir Henry may make some appearance,” said Buck. “But we’ll see. That’s up to Casey.”

The El Segundo Art Walk is Saturday, August 27 from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. ER

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