Read the full article here.
James Scarborough wrote a nice preview of the Made for You and Me show in The Huffington Post saying, "To experience the work in "Made for You and Me: New Work by Martin Webb", is to come across sophisticated folk art, conceptually vigorous, visually intriguing folk art, in some out of the way place you stop on the way to somewhere else."
Read the full article here.
Just completed this studio-visit video which was beautifully shot and edited by painter/videographer John Yoyogi Fortes at Digital Boondocks.
Really looking forward to this show. The work is still taking shape but expect plenty of large-scale paintings and an equally sizeable sculpture/installation piece.
After a winter of studio-hibernation, Spring brings the artist back out into the world with a frenzy of activity ... (relatively speaking).
Opening March 16th at The Compound Gallery, Oakland, the show Outside the Box II is a group show of work by artists who contribute to the Art in a Box art subscription project. The artists will be showing their "full-size" work including some 3D pieces of mine. Details about the show here.
As a sideline to that show, Compound is launching a special edition of hand-glazed plates available to Art in a Box subscribers. My contributions are pictured here >>> and more information can be found here.
Still at The Compound, I'm continuing to make work for my solo show coming up in June, opening reception Sat June 15th. I'm excited to be planning a show in such a great space and the new pieces intend to make good use of it. There should be a few surprises ....!
Meanwhile, I'm a finalist on a couple of public art commissions and am really enjoying the process of developing concepts and visuals for those designs. The public art process can be quite a process, but it makes a great contrast to working in the studio and at this point the two things are feeding each other nicely with ideas and images.
Finally, I've been installing some commissioned art into paving at Coddingtown in Santa Rosa in various phases since 2008, and we're currently planning the final piece of that work to be done sometime this summer.
I have a couple of pieces at Gallery Route One, Point Reyes Station for their group show "Out of the Blue" juried by Ruth Braunstein.
The reception Sunday 13th 3-5pm and the show is up til Feb 3rd. Head on up there, go for a hike, eat some oysters, go see the show - I guarantee it won't rain at all!
This day-laborer piece "Closer" is at Berkeley Art Center's show "Wonder". Dec 6th - Jan 27th.It's a super-eclectic show of over 250 small works. 1275 Walnut St, Berkeley. www.berkeleyartcenter.org.
Oakland Ember is a blog by Oakland ceramic sculptor Crystal Morey featuring studio visits and interviews with local artists. She visited me October 29th and we drank coffee and chatted at length. You can see the resulting article with some really nice images of new work in progress, studio paraphernalia, and read the interview here.
Hyperallergic art forum/magazine/blog have a great feature called A View From The Easel which features images submitted by artists of their workspaces and descriptions of them. Mine was just included in the October 24th feature. You can see it here.
I've been working on a commission "Seed" for the last six weeks. The commission is in a extremely public space - a plaza that connects downtown Santa Rosa and a large shopping mall. Since I've been working on-site the whole time, usually kneeling or sitting on the floor in full view, it's been an interesting opportunity to see the art + public, and public + artist interaction. These are a few things I noticed.
People like art. There's already a piece of art in the plaza - a giant white marble hand entitled Agraria by Larry Kirkland, and people love The Hand. I see at least 30 people a day posing for photos in front of The Hand. Sometimes they pose in jokey ways to make visual puns out of The Hand, usually they just think it's cool and want to stand within its half cupped fingers. Teenagers sometimes sit right down inside its palm to wait in the shade for friends or to share a sneaky cigarette. Visitors seeing it for the first time stop to look at it, and I hear locals on cellphones asking friends to, "Meet me by The Hand". Everyone strokes its cool surface. I've heard that it may be an representation of Luther Burbank's hand posed as if casting seed, and the title bears this out, but I haven't heard anyone referring to it in this context. It doesn't seem like people are looking for or have need of an explanation - intuitively, they admire it's craft; they connect with its possible spiritual dimensions and its wit; they know that its un-ordinariness makes part of their town special. It's a beautiful enigma, a memorable landmark, and it matters that someone cared enough to make it and put it there. I think that's a pretty worthwhile piece of art.
In addition to that, the hand is surrounded by small tiles with philosophical quotes and, again, I was struck by just how many people, and how diverse a range of people, would stop, read, and discuss these - another bullseye Mr Kirkland!
You need to slow down to see the art. The plaza is surrounded by many offices and businesses and has the ubiquitous Starbucks making it popular with the early morning pre-shopping crowd. This crowd has a lot of office workers, construction workers remodeling the mall, and a lot of street-people. I don't know if that's considered a correct or acceptable term to use, but it's broadness makes it seem OK for now. Thirty and forty-somethings were generally too busy to really take in what was going on. Kids, teenagers, early twenties, fifty-somethings and older were all much more ready to take the time to see what was happening and to interact. This would range from them offering quick comments or words of encouragement, to full-blown conversations about what they were seeing. All this was very welcome and made my experience so much more interesting. Hopefully theirs too.
If it's visually interesting, you can sneak up on folks with a concept. Generally, people commented on the look of it, "Looks great", "Beautiful", "Now I can see how it's gonna be", etc. Lots of people wanted to know about the processes and techniques, and this chat about the practical or visual aspects sometimes lead to deeper talk about the ideas behind the piece. I could see that this turn in the conversation was often an unexpected one, but it seemed that it was usually greeted as a pleasant surprise.
I had a couple of, "Now, I don't suppose you tell me what this is all about can you?", questions too, and of course, those folks seemed the least interested in hearing the explanation.
Breaking the elitism of "the artist" is a relief for everyone. Since much of what I had to do on this project looks more like construction work than any work one might stereotypically picture an "artist" doing, people often assumed that I was a trades-person, artisan, or laborer, depending on what task I was doing. People were understandably surprised and then intrigued to find that I was actually the "artist", which made me wonder if they would have been as quick to approach me and chat if they'd known. I hope so. Maybe they were just surprised to see that an artist actually works really hard.
Art-making as social-lubricant. One question that frequently came up was how did I get to be doing what I was doing. Sometimes, especially with the daily-aquaintance street-people, histories were exchanged, and I heard about nuns and veterans, families, illnesses and travels, and the jobs that they'd previously done before the story reached the present day. Many had worked in construction, set tile, finished concrete, or been commercial painters, and in this were able to make a connection with what I was doing. Of course, this works both ways, and for me to be able to have these interactions made me and my little project seem to be a part of something much bigger and more connected.
Include people in the process and they become custodians. Especially with the street-people, I got a sense that since the making of the piece had been part of their world for a while they genuinely cared about it. They were actually more disgusted than I was when someone left a long bicycle tire skid-mark on one section. My response was, "Aah, it'll clean off OK". They insisted, "People should have more respect".
Conclusions? So often when we encounter a piece of art, especially public-art, we don't really think about how it got there or how it was made, we just see it as part of what is usually a commercially manufactured environment. The fact that people did see the process, and they did see the physical work involved, and they saw the piece take shape and develop layer by layer as they went about their daily business, became one of the most meaningful dimensions to the whole experience. Seeing an artist laboring for weeks to create something unique for their environment made people engage so much more with not only the piece, but with the whole idea of what their public space means, and with the practice of art-making.
All of this made the experience of this commission so much more interesting and thought provoking. It will take some time to digest it all, but I anticipate it really enhancing the way I approach future projects.