Andy St. Martin: Break on through to the other side

For nearly two decades, Andy St. Martin has been making large, mixed-media paintings, and a recent run of sales and new solo exhibition suggest he's finding an audience

Andy St. Martin: Break on through to the other side

Andy St. Martin is proof that vision, talent, and perseverance can bring success on one's own terms. For nearly two decades, St. Martin has made large, mixed-media paintings while working a variety of typical and not-so-typical day jobs. Recent response to his work suggests that he is finding an audience; he has enjoyed a brisk run of sales, and the show "Andy St. Martin: Selected Works From 1999 to 2007" is currently on display at 4wallsfineart, a recent addition to the Austin arts community by Michael Terrazas of Club de Ville and Starlite fame.

A member since 1999 of the Splinter Group, one of the Eastside's creative collectives, St. Martin shares space with five woodworkers and a blacksmith. "When I first moved to Austin, I had a studio in my house. I was going bonkers, so I started looking for a studio. I was friends with Hawkeye Glenn the blacksmith, who introduced me to [Splinter Group founder] Mark Macek. We've stayed pretty much the same crew since then." And what about the noise and dust from all those power tools? "I paint around the others at night and on the weekends. People are pretty respectful. There have been different issues, as there always will be, but we've all been together for so long, and we all like each other. I feel like I'm in with a group of people who are dedicated, professional, and hardworking. Just being in proximity to them is inspiring. And it's weird – sawdust has never really been a problem."

St. Martin's quiet progress over time brought him to the attention of 4wallsfineart. "The gallery approached me. [Assistant director] Julie Stevens knew my work." Although the show covers nearly a decade, St. Martin is careful not to use the word "retrospective" to describe his still-emerging work. "We are calling it 'selected works.' I feel that although it is a retrospective, that word is kind of loaded. It is a bit pretentious for me."

Modesty aside, studying the paintings side by side in order to make his selections has given St. Martin confidence about the maturity of his themes. "No matter how different the two things that one person made might be, there are underlying congruities also. And that's exciting, because that means it's possible to change and still be yourself."

Whatever St. Martin's long-term prospects, 2007 will be remembered as a turning point. "When you're working in obscurity, there's a nice tension there because there's something to push against. When you break through that, there's nothing on the other side. It's a little bit startling, a little bit disturbing. At the same time, I've put a lot of energy out in the last 10 years to produce these paintings. The prospect of doing the show is exhilarating and flattering. It's a good acknowledgement of effort and will." (For a review of "Andy St. Martin: Selected Works From 1999 to 2007," see Arts Listings, p.98.)

"Andy St. Martin: Selected Works From 1999 to 2007" is on display through June 30 at 4wallsfineart, 115 E. Fifth #1 (between Congress and Brazos). For more information, call 472-2007.

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