Last Friday I attended my cousin’s solo show opening at Mark Wolfe Contemporary in downtown San Francisco. I’ve written about my cousin Ryan Martin many times before and am a big fan of his work (and not just because he’s my cousin!). So many friends, coworkers and family members showed up that it just felt like a big party, which was great.
It’s fun talking to my cousin about his work and his process. As a graphic designer who focuses mostly on web interfaces and communication design, it’s interesting to hear my cousin’s answers to questions that illustrate just how different creating art can be than designing for a client, at least in my experience. I remember asking him about why he chose a specific color and texture in one of his pieces and he responded “I don’t know, it just felt right.” With communication design, I feel like every design decision is made to fulfill an objective or purpose, and it’s fun to recognize the differences between designing for usability vs. creating art for the sake of creating something beautiful, or to convey a message in an entirely different way. It’s incredibly inspiring.
Portraits of George and Mike Kuchar
Ryan Martin with underground film actress (and all around amazing lady) Linda Martinez and her portrait, and my lovely Aunt Val (Ryan’s mother)
Being someone who spends the majority of her time behind a computer, or at a desk, it’s refreshing to get out of my office or apartment to take in some new visual inspiration, and Ryan’s work is always that for me. His use of color is bold and fearless. The subjects and themes of his pieces can be fun at first glance, but draw you in and the longer you stare at them, the more thought provoking they become. He is truly an expert at his craft, but it’s wonderful to see him grow and evolve as an artist. This show was a great example of that. One major focus was the 37 Portraits of Julian Larach. Just as the title explains, he painted 37 portraits with varying scenes and themes with one model. And luckily for the opening night attendees, Julian was there!
I encourage everyone to check out Ryan’s show if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area. And if you’re unable to check out his show, check out your local art galleries! Seeing art in person is such a rich experience, and guess what friends, it’s free. Learn about the artists in your area, figure out what you’re drawn to, and follow those artists on Facebook and Instagram, send them messages of encouragement. If you’re lucky and discover an artist earlier in their career, you might be able to purchase one of their pieces. The world can be a scary place a lot of the time, and it’s truly a gift that there are so many people who are selfless enough to share their talents with all of us. That definitely should be celebrated.
Photo credit: All photos taken by Ali