OPENING RECEPTION - MAY 13TH AT 7PM
1525 WEBSTER ST. OAKLAND, CA
SHOWING THROUGH - JUNE 3RD
Press Release | In his latest solo show, “Mayflowers”, Jet Martinez continues his exploration of work inspired by folk arts. The original source of exploration was folk arts from Mexico. Now, with this new body of work, Jet seeks to draw from various folk art forms throughout the world to create work that feels common to people form many cultures.
There are commonalities between folk art throughout the world. Visual motifs play out in cultures that seemingly couldn’t be more different. For example, the motif of birds in branches surrounded by flowers, is a motif that can be seen from Mexico, to Russia, Egypt, India, and beyond. The starting point of the work in this show is to allow those commonalities to infuse the work. Rather than to specifically choose one culture to pay homage to, the artist is trying to pay homage to a larger international tradition that artists and makers carry in their own work. The show is broken up into small subsets that give the overall exhibit a feeling of a group show. Each group is inspired by a separate folk art technique or grouping of techniques. One piece entitled “Wild, Not Lost”, combines inspirations from paintings on bark paper from the state of Guerrero, Mexico with Huichol yarn paintings from the state of Nayarit in Mexico. The painting also contains patterning samples from Chinese ceramics and details from Ukranian eggs within the floral shapes of the painting.
The title “Mayflowers”, is not only an obvious reference to the month of May and is represented by the heavy floral aesthetic to the work, but “Mayflowers” is also a reference to the immigrant origins of this American culture. Just as the country itself, I am an amalgam of cultures. I wanted to create work for this show that spoke to the multi-ethnic makeup of our country. Rather than seeking to differentiate itself, this work seeks to assimilate. I want people from completely different backgrounds to find something new and something familiar in the work.
Join us for the opening reception of “Mayflowers” on May 13th at 7pm in Oakland at Athen B. Gallery. We’re conveniently located at 1525 Webster St. just off both 12th and 19th Street Bart Stations in Downtown Oakland. To be added to the collectors preview being sent out next week contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artist Statement | The core of my practice stems from my interest in locating folk art’s place in a globalized world. I seek to create a multi-cultural dialogue that explores the consistencies of visual culture throughout time, beginning with ancient artisans and extending to contemporary artists. I was convinced from an early age growing up in Cuernavaca, Mexico that communities can be sustained through art making. Like the craftspeople who integrate life into the creation of ceramics and textiles—nothing less than a certain form of magic—I embrace the imperfections of the handmade—the organic forms and vibrant colors which have the power to remove the individual identity of the artist in favor of a more universal expression of “folk art.”
By uniting the imagery of traditional Mexican folk art with the vernacular of urban contemporary art, I’m trafficking in the nuanced relationship between artistic tradition and global influences, in the process finding the relationship between community and culture. The lineage of west coast mural work looms large in my practice: art functioning as a symbol of resistance transforming overlooked spaces into something beautiful—a daily revolution in the form of creating.
Bio | An influential figure in Bay Area public art, Oakland-based artist Jet Martinez (b. 1973) is known for creating vibrant works of art that engage the traditions of Mexican folk art with contemporary aesthetics. Originally from the small beach town of Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico, and raised in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Martinez takes inspiration from his native culture’s rich traditions of pottery, weaving and embroidery, enlivening the rigid architecture of urban environments with ornate patterns and abstract forms.
A fellow of the Kala Art Institute, in Berkeley, CA with his wife, Kelly Ording, Martinez’s work has been exhibited internationally at Joseph Gross Gallery, 111 Minna Gallery, White Walls Gallery, Museo de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, and Syracuse University, among others. His murals have been commissioned in locales as diverse as Oaxaca, New Orleans, Brazil, and Zurich, and by the San Francisco Arts Commission/San Francisco General Hospital, the cities of Denver, Colorado and San Jose, California, and companies such as Facebook, Hilton, Kiehl’s, John Fluevog and Red Bull.
Martinez served as the director of San Francisco’s acclaimed Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) for 10 years from 2004 to 2014. His work with CAMP has been integral to the creation and preservation of public art in the Mission District, a historically Latino neighborhood known as a bastion for underground arts and culture.