"Andy St. Martin: The Weight" at Prizer Arts & Letters
In his newest show, the artist is, as ever, nothing if not commitment incarnate
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Feb. 26, 2021
"You Are What You Did" says the print from graphic designer Rick Griffith's Matter shop in Denver. I bought that print because I'd seen another iteration of it in Austin's Northern-Southern Gallery months before and hadn't been able to get it – the message, the type treatment – out of my mind. Which has nothing but also everything to do with Andy St. Martin and "The Weight," his new show of original works at Prizer Arts and Letters on East Cesar Chavez.
"Like all my paintings, collage, and drawings," says St. Martin, "these new ones are a chain reaction of reactions, reflections, decisions (about them, paintings, and life and light, literally). They are my activity, evaluation, commitment incarnate, and contract with myself." They've been those things since the artist first picked up a brush, a pencil, a pair of scissors and some glue. They've been those things, at least subtly influenced by our own river city, since the New Hampshire-born artist moved here in 1991 to participate in a workshop conducted by dancer Deborah Hay. They've been those things while St. Martin has worked, is working, and will work in a studio among the other makers (woodcrafters, blacksmiths) of the Splinter Group. They'll be those things as long as he's doing them.
These abstractions of St. Martin's – large, initially mild of impact or downright confrontational, with fields and patterns that intrigue more than they explain, with a palette that shifts according to whatever urgency of color comes a-calling (part of that chain reaction of reactions and all, we reckon) – these new paintings inhabit the walls of Prizer with an oblique record of the artist's life that is also, taking the image-maker at his word, a literal record of the artist's life. He is what he did. He is the choices and applications, the paths his hands describe in changing the blankness of a surface toward what his muse dictates, the actions required to wrangle pigment and paper, business and board, texture and time. Especially time: He's relentless, we've heard, in his explorations.
"This is the time, and this is the record of the time," as Laurie Anderson voiced it in her "From the Air" of 1982 – which has nothing but also everything to do with Andy St. Martin's "The Weight" at Prizer Arts and Letters. In this time that's recorded more by everyone than during any of the times before it, that's more basically surveilled, you can still be your own choices and applications. You can, for instance, choose to apply yourself to traveling to see what light bounces off the transmogrified life of Andy St. Martin expressed upon those walls. You can make an appointment for a full viewing or you can peer through the front window that'll be illuminated nightly, from 6-10pm, until March 22.
And then it – appreciating art in person – will be something you did, do you see? And it will be you. Or, as one of our favorite fictional beings of all time struggled to realize, "The Spanish dancer is the girl who was hurt in darkness."
"Andy St. Martin: The Weight"Prizer Arts & Letters, 2023 E. Cesar Chavez
Through March 22