Jamie Martinez, who has just launched THE BORDER at the 56 Bogart building in Bushwick, is a prolific artist, curator, blogger, and now – gallerist. In his interview with Art Spiel, Martinez shares a bit about himself, the genesis of his multiple activities and his exciting plans for the near future.
AS: You are simultaneously navigating several art territories: artist / writer / curator, and now – gallerist. As somewhat a multi-tasker myself, I am curious to get an insight on what is your typical day like?
Jamie Martinez: I start the day early in the morning with emails for all of the above, once I am done with those, I move on to the blog to make sure my next story is ready to be published then I follow up with writers working on new articles and upcoming shows I am interested in covering. I also manage a showroom in SoHo for my job, which makes things really complicated, but I am lucky to have that because it finances many of my projects. Once work is done, I head to my studio in Dumbo and work on my art until around 9:30 pm, then finally head home for one more round of emails. Now that I opened THE BORDER in Bushwick, I will be there most weekends so I will not have much free time for awhile, which I don’t mind because I have a great appreciation for art and I don’t consider it a job, even though it’s a lot of hard work.
Would you be willing to share some formative milestones in your life?
Jamie Martinez: Absolutely. I believe that my biggest accomplishment was to come to the United States and become a legal citizen because without that I would not have gone much further. I was born in Ibague, Tolima that is a very small town in Colombia. I am Native American from the Pijao Tribe there and I was lucky enough to come to the United States as a small child – it gave me a chance to enjoy the enormous benefits of living in America. Coming from a small town in Colombia to live in Manhattan, having a studio in Dumbo and now opening a space to show the work while helping out other immigrant artists – are a dream come true.
AS: You just launched THE BORDER, a new project space at 56 Bogart in Bushwick. Can you tell me how this project came about and what is your vision for this art venue?
Jamie Martinez: I opened THE BORDER because I felt the need to show immigrant artists and their distinct point of view, which contributes something different to the conversation. Being an immigrant myself and knowing how difficult it is to become legal (very difficult), never mind chasing the dream of becoming an artist (even harder and now I am pushing it), I noticed that I knew lots of unique, talented, emerging and established immigrant artists whose work is being shown but not shown together and not shown enough. I felt there was a void, and I wanted to fill this void by opening a space, which focuses on supporting and showing emerging and established immigrant artists living in the United States in the hopes of creating a nurturing environment for immigrants and non-immigrants alike to create a dialogue around their work.
In addition, I have a second secret exhibition only seen in Virtual Reality in the space. We will be having two shows there; one in this world and one via Virtual Reality. This part is new to me, and I am learning that technology is moody to say the least so do not kill me if the VR is not working on a specific day.
On another note, since the opening, the project has taken a new direction. I have started documenting all the activity that happens at the space, the interactions and exchange of energy between the art, the guests, the space and the artists. I am documenting this via video, photos and keeping a daily journal of the daily activities that happen when THE BORDER is open. I also talk to every single person that walks in and I ask questions regarding the work they see, how it affects them and then questions to the visitors themselves to get a little background on the guests. I am interested in the details as well as the big picture in this transfer. I hope people can stop by to contribute to the conversation.
AS: We were first acquainted through Arte Fuse, your fine arts blog. Can you tell me about the genesis of this endeavor, your goals, and where is it going?
Jamie Martinez: Thanks for writing those wonderful articles. I started the Arte Fuse blog in 2010 because I was going to a lot of shows and I didn’t see anybody covering specific shows that drew particular interests in me and shows I felt were worthy of being noticed and reviewed. Therefore, I started doing photo stories about these shows and going to a lot of them. I was hooked, then I started writing about them and later on, I got a couple of writers to help me out and here we are 8 years later and over 2000 articles posted. The blog is focused on shows that are currently up, so our goal is to get more people to attend these shows and to help promote the gallery system because not enough people are going to see the shows physically since most are seen through Instagram and the web. It is sad to say that people do not read much anymore so we are trying different things to help promote shows like doing more videos and more interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. The direction has shifted recently to show a lot more international shows from other parts of the world and to cover more openings and smaller galleries that are putting on great shows and deserve attention.
AS: What is Triangulism?
Jamie Martinez: Triangulism is a word I used to describe my infatuation with triangles and triangulation when I started. I no longer use the word with my work because I don’t like labeling things but I have recently started an Instagram account called @triangulism to show different artists that are using triangles in contemporary art today. One day I will curate a show with that idea and try to get these artists in the show but some are art-stars so it will not be easy.
AS: Can you tell me about your artwork I am curious to hear about your source material, process, and in what ways other activities like curating, writing, and managing a venue, inform your art?
Jamie Martinez: My process involves constructing, deconstructing and fragmenting images, data and information geometrically into triangulated segments. My source material comes from everywhere, including my daily life and the internet. My focus lately has been towards what I like to call calculated abstracted paintings, which are based on particle interactions in Quantum Physics. I still mostly sell paintings, and that gives me the freedom to play around with different materials and subject matters that might not sell. I do not do many figurative triangulated/low poly paintings anymore, because that style is all over the internet and I mostly see them as illustrations now.
Curating, writing and managing a venue have drastically changed the direction of my work. I see my work and myself more as a connector or networker. Whether it is through my art blog, events, projects, curated group shows, and now THE BORDER, I enjoy bringing things and people together. I also do mixed media pieces, getting the source material from my blog by triangulating and combining a bunch of sequenced articles. The quickest way to connect people is through a straight line so by networking and connecting people you will always have a triangulated layout built on information and connections – connections are key.
AS: We have established that you are successfully embracing a wide range of art related fields. What are you working on now and do you see yourself focusing more on one aspect or another?
Jamie Martinez: Thanks for the kind words. My art always comes first, and this is where all of my focus goes. Now that I opened THE BORDER and it has become a project on its own in addition to the shows I will be curating there, I plan to continue to blog and cover shows that I find interesting since I see over 30 shows per week and I am using that as material for new pieces. In a way, the blog, project space, and my art become a triangle on its own.
56 bogart street, BK, NY. Take the L train to the Morgan stop.
Hours: Saturday and Sunday 1-6 pm or by appointment.
Follow on instagram at @jamiemartinez_studio @artefuse @the_border_project_space @triangulism