pt. 2 Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by John Martin. Martin is known for his vibrant and whimsical interpretations of vehicles and tools, which are often anthropomorphized to a degree in which personality outweighs functionality. For his first exhibition at pt. 2 Gallery, Martin presents drawings on paper, and sculptures in wood and ceramic.

The images that fill Martin’s work, both in painting and in sculpture, provide a glimpse into the artist’s life - who made his way to Oakland after growing up on a farm in Mississippi. Full of humans, tractors, cars, alligators, and tools, the subjects in Martin’s paintings coexist peacefully, seemingly unaware of the absurdity of their situation. 

The tools that Martin depicts exist in an undefined space between utility and aesthetic. Often represented open, the leatherman multitools, pocket knives, saws and crescent wrenches are full of potential energy. Never shown achieving their base function, they allude to the possibility of use and fulfillment. In doing so, they also move beyond their purported purpose, gaining humanlike qualities and intermingling with transportation vehicles and societal moments. In Untitled #1, from 2000, a life-sized leatherman spreads out on a counter, to the awe of two human viewers. The leatherman dwarfs other tools in the scene, instead engaging with the humans. Human or tool, we are left with bountiful possibility, rather than a commitment to baseline functionality. 

Martin’s sculptures and drawings are mostly rendered in bright colors, with soft edges along the edges of tools, vehicles and spaces. The freedom in his mark making, indicated by moments of overlap in colors or borders alongside his vibrant palette displays a sense of joy that permeates across his work.

John Martin’s practice is supported by Creative Growth, a non-profit based in Oakland, California that serves artists with disabilities by providing a professional studio environment for artistic development, gallery exhibition, and representation.