A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with a very inspiring Los Angeles artist, America Martin, in her vast studio in Silverlake.
I met America through my talented musician friend Johnny Moezzi, who invited me over to her studio where they were recording a video of some of their new music. America has set her studio up as a communal space to support other artists and has used the space for various creative collaborations. I was immediately blown away and inspired by America’s work and knew it was something that I needed to share.
America comes from a line of Columbian American artists including her uncle Knox Martin, a famous abstract artist, and her father who was an artist, bull-fighter and poet in Spain. Raised in Los Angeles by her mother, she grew up in the hollywood hills where her talents were developed at the early age of 9 after she picked up one of Van Gogh’s portrait books. She was blown away by his work which soon led to her 10 year apprenticeship with her mentor, Vernon Wilson.
America’s path to her art has always been focused on life resulting in figurative portraiture that is inspired by photographs of people taken during her travels as well as from old photographs. She describes her work as “impressionistic and based around line”.
I was so inspired by how America decorated her studio space. She and I are inspired by many of the same references and I was in heaven soaking in all the different colors and textures around me.
I really connected with America and her art as her sense of color is really unique and she sites people as her main source of inspiration. She says,
“I’m completely inspired by color; colorful people and the sense of being alive.”.
I realized after talking with her how similar we were in that sense. Almost all of the art in my house is portraiture of unique individuals in a kaleid0scope of colors.
She sites Rothko, Van Gogh and Gauguin as artists who have inspired her sense of color. Similar to how a designer might approach a season, America creates two different color palettes for each show and paints various works within each palette. Her art is created by using a combination of acrylics and oil with brushes, oilsticks and white charcoal.
America also has a passion for sculpture which she started working on during her college years in Boston. Although she put it aside for several years, last year she picked it back up and has been exploring the medium. Her process starts by creating mini cardboard sculptures to get a feel for each piece before she cuts the steel and welds them together using a water jet cutter.
America also experiments with form drawing using pastels on paper. Some of the drawings are used as inspiration for one of her large scale paintings.
America sites Thomas Houseago, a Los Angeles sculpture artist, and Oaxacan Alejandro Santiago as two modern day artists that she admires and is inspired by. Travel is a big part of her life and much of her spirit comes from the people she has met in her favorite places such as Spain, Portugal, Bali and India. America and I both dream of visiting Africa oneday.
America’s work is in approximately 8 galleries across the country and is in the homes of some of Hollywood’s elite including Danny DeVito, Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi.
My time with America was so inspiring and I’m looking so forward to hanging with her soon for one of her famous artist potlucks at the studio. The vibrancy of her work communicates the passion and love that she has inside of her that she very easily gives out to the people around her. I get so happy when I meet people like America in Los Angeles who are so inspired and happy to be doing their thing. As someone else doing “my thing”, I know how hard it is to stay true to yourself and America is the real deal.
Take a look at this beautiful video that does an amazing job communicating America’s passions and the inspiration for her work.