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Meet the Artist: Barbara Martin

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Scritching, scratching and bringing to life in black & white

"Like many artists, I dropped out of school due to a lack of money. I moved to New York City and took a job as a “fetch-it girl” for Sherry Suris. She was putting together a master photographer's calendar for her partner, photographer, the W. Eugene Smith. They lived in a loft on 23rd Street. It, the loft, was a mess; I was in heaven. I got to see first-hand how a real, working, famous artist lived. Unfortunately, soon after, Sherry and Eugene moved to Arizona where Eugene later died.

I completed my BFA, but still needed another job, and although I had never taken a graphic design class in my life, I learned very quickly that design firms would pay good money if you could draw a straight line. I could. I found work at a place called Chartmakers, then in the cartographic department at The New York Times. Soon, I was promoted to Assistant Art Director for the "Science Times" and "Weekend" sections. It was challenging work, but I learned a lot. I went on to freelance at Time, Harper’s and Discover magazines. Late one summer, Bob Eisner (formerly of The Times) called to see if I was interested in joining the art department at Newsday. I jumped at the chance and worked with a fascinating group of whip-smart, talented people for several years. I am grateful to all the people in New York that helped me find my way.

Life in New York City is challenging, and after nine years I tired of the struggle. My family and I returned to Ohio where I worked at several design firms. Eventually, I began to rethink my life as a graphic designer. I went back to school and got my master’s degree in Special Education. I taught for the next 27 years. In addition to working as an intervention specialist, I also taught art, earning National Board Certification in 2009 I gradually began exploring the art scene in Dayton, Ohio. I got to know various artists and looked closely at their work. After much self-reflection, I returned to my own artmaking. I developed my own “visual language”, my artistic “voice” if you will. I opened a studio and began to produce art regularly. In the spring of 2019, my teaching career came to an end when I retired and moved, kit and kaboodle, to Cleveland, Ohio. It took the better part of six months to get my studio (and the rest of the house) up and running, but now I have a wonderful studio space with good light, heat, and air conditioning. It overlooks a beautiful, wooded lot. We have a resident blue heron and plenty of deer stroll through our yard on a regular basis. I spend considerable time in my new studio, and when I am not there, I am exploring new galleries, and making new art friends. Life can be so good at times. I am filled with gratitude."

Featured Art in the Mart Artist at The Wembley Club February 21st, 2022 - May 23rd, 2022


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