Martin is widely known as the man behind the blog Anaba. The blog, which he started in 2004 while living in Richmond, Virginia, is his fiber connection to the rest of the world. He's an insatiable looker which is evident in the way he generously, and with dedication shares the work of many many other artists on Anaba. The posts are chock full of his images of and responses to other people's artworks culled from his intense, meticulously planned multi-day sojourns in NYC. The remarkable aspect of Anaba that is lost on the person who assumes (and it's easy to do given the volume and timeliness of his posts) that Martin is a resident of NYC, with the habit of haunting and documenting the exhibits in Chelsea, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. In reality, Martin lives painfully far from NYC. The distance - 186 miles from NYC - is only painful for those who want to make regular trips into the city - but have no car. Martin has no car. He makes these gallery hopping visits via a convoluted, several hour journey by bus, then packs in as much viewing possible over the proceeding 3 or 4 days. And, up until recently, Martin didn't even have a computer. His posts usually often (and sometimes still) are made from computers at the library. Anaba is a blog by an artist about what that artist wants to see and wants to share with those who care - with humor, and at no small cost to him. If you are so inclined, I suggest you throw a little coin his way via his donate button.
But enough of the blog....
We met Martin at his mom's house, then made the 10 minute walk with him to his studio.
and we're walking......
There's the building where Martin's studio is located.
There's Martin's studio window.
Martin's studio is a sliver of space flanked by two other studios on the second floor of a building otherwise used for storage (I think.)
At one point during the visit, conversation turned to the fact that the proportions of his studio mimic the elongated horizontal format of many of his paintings. Martin mentioned that he may one day lay canvas on the floor to catch the over spill of many year painting, then stretch it and mount it on the wall as his one monumentally scaled work. His version of this notion, given relation to his "normal sized" works, may have more raison d'etre than Joe Bradley's recent go at Gavin Brown.
Martin on the left, Mark Delura on the right.Examining Martin's "extreme landscaped" canvases while standing inside a space of a similarly formatted footprint, one can easily envision the effect of an infinite mirror; as if this world in which we ponder a grain of colored sand on a Bromirski painting could itself be grain of colored sand on some other colossal Bromirski painting of galactic scale. In fact, Martin's use of circular forms evokes the cosmic. His 2008 exhibit Circus on Mars at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY conveyed a real sense for the cosmic and creepy carnival clownsiness implied by the show title.
Martin's work table, crusted and dusted with sand.
Martin's works are paintings of simple means. They live on a strict and steady diet: acrylic paint & matte medium, colored paper, colored sand, glitter, plus time and gravity .
Erosion and deterioration are at work here. But what remains of those processes is pure of hue; fresh, not faded. Martin achieves the effect of embossing through the process of addition. His pieces are built up layers of matte medium, colored sand and acrylic paint. After building the layers, he'll scrape the surface down in the bathroom sink, revealing the underlying colors, rinsing, then repeatingt. His works can appear deceptively simple in photographs, but the process is very rigorous. The worked layers of sand and paint take on the appearance of crushed velvet.
Although Martin's work is very different, I found an affinity in color, texture and abandon in with Jessica Stockholder's "monoprints",
Some raw materials
Peter Acheson examining a piece.
If Will Cotton's paintings convey the promise of a dreamy sugar orgy, Martin's depict the next morning's hangover. Can one puke glitter? Would could be a more rewarding end to a retching filled evening? How better the relief of tossing one's cookies if one could see the previous night's consumption dressed up with glitter?
Maybe I should do a book of artist's studio floors.
The distress of the canvases often entails punching through them, cutting the surface, then stretching and tying off the pieces, sometimes mending them with fragments of Martin's own clothes; socks, jeans, boxers etc.
The back of a painting trussed up with pieces of denim.
The top left piece is the one I took home (Martin initiated trades with the three of us.)
After the visit we walked back home through the dark. Greeted at home by Martin's mom and bowls of might damn fine chili, which we savored while being treated to a viewing of Martin's trove of treasures and regaled with tales of conquest (and collaborations with Richard Prince.)