Martin, who has taught drawing and painting on WNC’s Fallon campus since 2004 and served as WNC’s art director in recent years, makes his own paint and often works on his paintings on the ground.
The Capital City Arts Initiative (CCAI) will present Martin’s exhibition, “From the Ground Up,” from Friday, Feb. 3 through May 24 at the CCAI Courthouse Gallery in Carson City. CCAI will host a reception for Martin from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, with Martin scheduled to talk about his exhibit at 5:30 p.m. The reception and the exhibition are free and the public is cordially invited.
Martin said that when he was first studying painting, an artist friend gave him a box of art materials and assorted tools that she no longer needed. In that box was a book on how to make paint from earth pigments. It remained in his studio for years until one day he picked it up and started reading. With his interest piqued, he started driving around looking for colored dirt from road cuts.
For more than 20 years he has made his own paint from natural earth pigments that he digs up from various sources in the western United States. He uses a starch paste made from corn meal as a binder and adds water to create a more or less viscous paint.
Martin described this process.
“I like to work my pieces outside, both on the ground and tacked to a wall,” he said. “The paint pools up in the small depressions and flows over uneven surfaces of canvas and paper laid on the ground or drips down in furrows on the pinned pieces. There is always an element of chance to the painting process. The material speaks and I then react to the needs of the painting.”
His latest body of work has unmistakable references to Western landscapes. He neither fosters those images, nor eschews them. They mainly come about by working horizontal bands of color against one another until the painting unifies. His goal is to create a provocative visual experience, first for himself, then, hopefully, for other viewers.
Martin earned B.A. degrees in Art History and English Literature at the University of Washington. Later, he studied painting under Richard Pousette-Dart at the Art Students League in New York and with Frank Okada and Ron Graff at the University of Oregon, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting in 1994. Martin has received visiting artist fellowships at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Hambidge Center for the Arts, Yangzhou University (People’s Republic of China) in 1999, and at the Morris Graves Foundation.
Martin has also shown his art at the Work Place Gallery in Portland, Ore; Kiang Gallery in Atlanta; and St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City. See more of Martin’s art online at www.gilmartinpaintings.com.
The gallery is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Courthouse Gallery is located at 885 E Musser St., Carson City.
CCAI is also preparing to show a companion exhibition of Martin’s, “Smaller Works,” in the Community Center’s Sierra Room, 851 E William St., in Carson City. This show will be open from March 1 to July 6 during all public meetings and from noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays.