Mario “Mars1” Martinez Debuts With Rotation

1xRUN Thru Interview
Rotation by Mars1

1xRun: Tell us a little bit about Rotation. When was it created?
Mars1: The original piece was acrylic on wood. It was created for the summer group show at Joshua Liner Gallery, and I believe it was finished around July 2012.

1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about.
Mars1: It was this new development in my work that I’ve been experimenting with where I’m merging and melting between the environment and the objects. There is less separation between the background, the foreground, the sky and all the physical objects & geometric shapes. Kind of a feeling of this biological, mechanical weather. It’s a strange fuzzing or blurring of the distinctions between the physical, the ethereal, the mental & the biological. I’m really trying to play with the seen & unseen. It’s some of these realities that we encounter on earth on a regular basis but somehow it feels like an alternate environment, an alien environment. That’s the point I guess, exploring the grey areas of fleeting ideas or concepts that visually communicate to a dimension or depth that words may not do justice in attempting to explain. This is the direction the work that I have been doing lately is going, there is less distinction behind these elements. It’s a bit of macro and micro, all these different polarities combining.

1xRun: What is unique about this piece from some of your other work?
Mars1: Like I mentioned, it’s definitely a peek into a new body of work, hinting at this new mutation or direction in my work. Obviously if people are familiar with my work they know it’s always mutating. Sometimes it’s a one time deal for a piece or sometimes it’s leading into another piece, I would say this piece is more of a lead in into this new space, it’s not the in between, it’s the lead in into the wormhole of these new avenues or stream of ideas that I am exploring.1xRun: Yea, I think that encapsulates it pretty well, your work is very tough to describe.
Mars1: Yea, they are these ideas that are hard to pin down. I mostly find myself painting from my imagination, I mean, I am obviously referencing things because it’s impossible not to. But I will consciously avoid using reference material when I’m working on something new.
I’ll peek into my sketch book occasionally, but I like the work to unfold from my imagination, without photo reference or anything. There’s no real sketching of the pieces in my sketch book, I’m just always doodling and maybe I’ll flip through it if I get stuck at a certain point in the painting for some interesting shapes.

1xRun: How long did this piece take from start to finish?
Mars1: Most of the time I will start the piece and have a slow internal dialog with it. This piece took a couple solid weeks of working on it straight through.

1xRun: Can you describe this piece in one gut reaction word?
Mars1: I’m reaching for something. Rotation is maybe not quite the best, but I dunno if I have the right word. I have a feeling with it, but I can’t encapsulate it. I think it’s better left open to ponder.

1xRun: Give us a little insight into your process, how do you go about creating a piece like this?
Mars1:From the mind’s eye. 1 out of 10 times there is a clear vision and I just execute it, but most of the time I’ll have an idea of where I want to take it, but it’s not crystal clear. There’s always room for new ideas and information to stream in as the piece is developing, usually I like to keep it looser and start to build up the composition without much detail. Then as it starts coming in and feeling right I start hitting the detail a little harder, until it’s like polishing a stone. I will usually finish by making things look hyper-finished with the light reflecting in the correct spots so it feels like they are at the right angles and nothing is looking discombobulated.

Transcendental Disaster by Mars1

1xRun: How did you get your start creating artwork and how did it evolve into your full time job?
Mars1: Off the bat I’m left handed. I also had enough space as a kid to entertain that creative side that I gravitate to, the right side of my brain. I could see how if that was discouraged in a child it might have been different. Visuals were always a good way of communicating for me. It was something that I always found myself doing and I became more and more interested in it. I never really paid attention in school, I was always doodling. I grew up  here on the west coast of California  in the late 70’s/early 80’s, so there’s the influences of the comic book, pop culture and graffiti stuff that influenced me.

I guess I realized it allowed me the most flexibility to explore my creativity. Everything else felt a bit suffocating and not really what I was meant to be doing. It seemed better when I was left to my own devices. If I was doing something with more instructions from somebody else it just doesn’t work for me.

1xRun: Do you remember your first piece?
Mars1: Painting or graffiti?

1xRun: Either or.
Mars1: I didn’t start (doing fine art) painting until I was 19. I had actually been doing graffiti and spray paint before I ever starting painting. I did tattoos and airbrushing when I was younger. First piece? That’s a little too vague I guess. I’ve always drawn. It’s just seemed to be the direction that I was going in. Obviously life can take us in different directions and it seemed like that was my trajectory and what I was supposed to be doing. It’s always felt really good and really satisfying that I have picked this. Even when I’m working 48 hours straight tor whatever, it always feels really good that this is what I’m doing. There’s a million other things that would probably pay more, and it’s really difficult to do hyper-detailed work, but I couldn’t be more happy to pay my bills and whatnot.

1xRun: Ok, do you want to talk about some of your early influences? You mentioned you were doing airbrush and tattooing.
Mars1: Yea, I started that stuff pretty young. I was doing airbrush when I was 11. I had a girlfriend when I was 14 that got me a job at an indoor swap meet doing airbrushing. I bought my first car with the money from that when I was 15, that’s when I realized you could make some money doing things like that. I was really into comics when I was a little dude, I was also really into 80s rap music, that break dancing era, it’s a little weird because I’m not as much into that stuff now.

Early Work from MARS1

It’s hard to nail down some of the influences. I try really hard not to let anything overtake me too much. There’s all the pop culture and obvious stuff that people born around my age were influenced by cartoon and toy wise. As far as a laundry list, I dunno, there’s a lot! Like I said, I never really let it overpower me, you know what I mean? I’ve always had many interests. There were a ton of artists that inspired me, it’s a tough one, it would definitely be a laundry list, and it just depends on the year, the month the day, so I couldn’t really say 1-2 different favorite artists. It’s really a soup.

Sculptures by MARS1

1xRun: Ok, fair enough, has there been anyone who’s work has been blowing you away lately?
Mars1: Ummm yea, but I’m finding it harder and harder to be blown away as I get older. I see lots of stuff that I like, but I think it’s dangerous for an artist if you get obsessive. At the moment I’ve really liked Taylor McKimens. It’s a little funny to me because I imagine it’s probably not exactly the type of work people would assume I’d be into .

Taylor McKimens

Also it’s definitely some of my closest friends like Oliver Vernon and Damon Soule. We’ve collaborated pretty often on ideas and paintings, so we share a similar aesthetic. Those are the guys that I work with so often that we mutate and share ideas conversationally, as well as painting together, we are always sharing information that way. Those are pretty strong currents. They are also very interesting ones, because we’re friends and we work together. Other people’s work tends to be from a distance, not so immersed. I’ll let Oliver and David’s work influence me a bit more that maybe some other peoples, and vice versa.

A Few Pieces from Damon Soule

The Journey by Vernon Oliver

Flagstaff Collaboration Mural with Mars1 x Vernon Oliver x Damon Soule

1xRun: Do you want to touch on any of the meditative or psychedelic aspects of your work?
Mars1: No, I don’t think it’s really necessary. It’s another element in the soup that makes up my work. I’m sure looking at the work some people can sense it, or other people might project some more than there is into that realm. There is that aspect, it’s the inner world. Obviously, psychedelics are deeply connected with that inner dimension, the other side of the coin of reality. It’s something that is definitely a big part of my work pulling so much from imagination.

1xRun: Do you want to touch on some of the process of bringing your pieces to life from these imaginary dimensions? What are some of the struggles and successes you’ve had?
Mars1: That’s just it. It’s a big problem. Sometimes it’s definitely a wrestling match, for me, it’s this internal struggle. When you reach any progress in the work, and it evolves, and you feel that it is ratcheted up from the work you did before, it’s this mental wrestling match, this tussle with the medium to get it out and have it really raise the bar so to speak. So ya, when the work gets better and evolves, and there’s this difficulty, it’s usually not with ease. Some of the work is very loose and open, and free flowing, then you have to start making decisions and it can start to get harder to get it to come out.

I really don’t like to do the same work over and over again, I feel if it gets super repetitive it’s a waste of time. I know if people like this certain type of painting I could probably sell 20 paintings just like it, but I just can’t bring myself to do it, it just feels too robotic, too repetitive. If I feel like I’m not learning anything or not getting anything creatively out of it I just can’t bring myself to do it.

1xRun: What is your work environment like when you work?
Mars1: I like the solitary confinement. It’s the only way I can think. It’s kind of a difficult problem in a way. The best time to have that complete silence and create that type of space is when I work at night. It’s a difficult schedule to maintain, because of that relationship with the rest of society. For this interview we’ve even had a tough time touching base. Especially with the East coast, by the time I’m up and really getting ready to go, everyone on the East coast is shutting it down.

1xRun: Do you want to bring us up to speed on what you’ve got planned for 2013?
Mars1: Nah…haha. I mean there’s always something. I haven’t been aggressively booking shows, I just needed a little time to spend with my kids. I couldn’t keep treadmilling with show after show. I have some cool stuff coming up that I’m keeping under my hat. Me, Oliver and Damon are doing something with the Petaluma Arts Center.

1xRun: Where else can people find you?
Mars1: – WebsiteFacebookBlogInstagram

Mars1 was interviewed by Pietro C. Truba exclusive for 1xRUN Jan. 8th, 2013.