"This print, featuring the calla lily, is part of a larger body of work I’ve been exploring throughout the pandemic. The muted tones of these pieces reflect a more somber state of mind, in which I simply have not felt it appropriate to make bright and colorful work. These times have felt uncertain and undefined. It’s been difficult to make plans for the future, when the present has felt so uncertain. Likewise, to make very colorful and “happy” work, has felt a bit tone deaf to the larger worldwide situation. I still feel the need to create and to make beautiful things, but I am exploring a more quiet aspect of that creativity."
Oakland-based artist Jet Martinez (born 1973) is known for creating vibrant works of art that put a contemporary spin on folk art motifs. Originally from the small beach town of Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico, Martinez takes inspiration from his native culture’s rich traditions of pottery, weaving and embroidery. His latest murals enliven the rigid architecture of cityscapes with ornate patterns and entrancing, abstract visuals.
An influential figure in Bay Area public art, 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.
Rhythmic, floral patterns unify Martinez’s various series of paintings from over the past 10 years. He predominantly works with acrylic paint and enamel on panel, rendering organic shapes that push the boundaries of form and color. Much like the craftspeople who create the ceramics and textiles that inspire him, Martinez prioritizes technical skill and embraces the imperfections of the handmade.
Martinez has exhibited in reputable galleries and art institutions nationwide, including Joseph Gross Gallery, 111 Minna Gallery, White Walls Gallery, Museo de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, Syracuse University and many others. He has painted murals in locales as diverse and Oaxaca and Zurich and created commissions for companies like Facebook, Hilton, Kiehl’s, John Fluevog and Redbull. Currently, he shares his Oakland studio with wife and fellow artist Kelly Ording and is focused on his muralism and studio practice full time.