“To be able to scramble up some place and look at it, and see it change. Your viewpoint changes, maybe communicating less, or maybe the color. It’s fun to be able to be so present, to let nature show you what to paint or show you the parts that are important to paint.”
America Martin astounds with the unmitigated power of her oeuvre – gushing, brash and bold, yet also tender and vulnerable. While unabashedly dedicated to exploring the landscape of the human body – the feminine in particular – Martin did an about-face for her birthday this year and focused on the landscape of nature’s body, here in Northern New Mexico no less.
“I love Taos so much I really wanted to do something different,” Martin said in a telephone interview from the road to Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday (Aug. 15). She had just finished a huge, weeklong reunion at a family homestead in Grenoble, France, and was driving back to Barcelona airport, where the fare was cheaper than a French flight – and on her way back to Taos to hang an exhibit of new work.
“America Martin in New Mexico” is described in press materials as an exhibit of “new and groundbreaking” work set to open with a reception Friday (Aug. 23) from 5-7 p.m. at 203 Fine Art, off 1335 Gusdorf Road in Taos. Admission is free.
Represented at 203 Fine Art since 2006, Martin’s “gift for abstract interpretation comes through as strongly as ever,” according to the gallery’s online catalog. “Martin’s rendering of the New Mexico landscape is reminiscent of well-known early modernists such as Marsden Hartley and John Marin.”
Martin said she rented a small solarized cabin off a 15-mile dirt road in Abiquiú, far from the maddening crowd, a “magical spot” called Gallina Ranch along the Chama River.
“The idea of being present and really looking at a vista – a tree, a rock even, and seeing it change throughout a day was amazing,” she said about her plein air work around Chama last July. “To be able to scramble up some place and look at it, and see it change. Your viewpoint changes, maybe communicating less, or maybe the color. It’s fun to be able to be so present, to let nature show you what to paint or show you the parts that are important to paint.”
She admits she wasn’t even sure she could do the nonfigurative work. “Like some people say they can’t speak French, because of the accent or something. But it has nothing to do with ability really. It actually has to do with your interest. Love, curiosity and hard work – it’s all about how you feel, and not about it being a ‘product.’ I love nature so much, it really reminded me that I have to put myself in nature’s way more often.”
According to her artist statement, Martin is “a traveler between mediums, insouciant in the conquest of new terrain.” A self-identified Colombian-American fine artist based in Los Angeles, she was born and raised a so-called Valley Girl, but her work is rooted in both old- and new world influences.
“[Her] work is distinguished by a command of line and color, making playful reference to both classic and indigenous art forms,” her artist statement reads, noting too, “The artist cannot be idle. It is only duty, love and discipline that make art. Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. The artist is gluttonous, constantly devouring life in order to translate all that she sees, smells, lives or breathes into her own language. Why, and for what? For the blistering personal joy that comes when one is doing something of and about truth. There is no choosing this life. An artist paints because she must.”
In response to a query by Bianca Collins in an April 4, 2019 Artillary magazine article, Martin says her history and personality are very present in her work – “all the things I love and learn, the books I read, the places I travel, are found on paper, canvas and in sculpture. And because we usually find what we look for, I look and I find grace and beauty and joy in people and in nature and in the sky and the sea and trees and children and music and architecture and science and languages and big feet and noses and flowers and vines that climb and I find peace in color and harmony in composition.”
America Martin is really a must-meet-and-greet artist who is in Taos this weekend. Don’t miss the chance to dance in her energy at the show’s reception.
The exhibition continues through Sept. 15, at 203 Fine Art, 1335 Gusdorf Road, Suite i, in Taos. Walk-in hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; open daily by appointment. For more information, see 203fineart.com or call (575) 751-1262.
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