Closer to the Sky is inspired by the burial platforms used by the Native Americans.
Part altar, part warning, the burial platform performed a practical purpose. Animals would raid graves within reach. Lifting the body off the ground prevented this, while placing the deceased “closer to the sky.” There are variations in process and preparation, but the silhouette of the burial platform is unmistakable: the viewer is reminded of mortality and the afterlife.
The Burial Platform is present in most of Martinez’s paintings. In some works the platform is literal, in other paintings it is abstracted into vertical lines with dark lines shooting off at various angles. Colors and scratches are laid upon the image appearing as if the artist is covering mistakes and layers of history. Martinez references photos taken during the 19th century. He uses them as literal elements which he washes into the images with bright colors and drips of paint. Crows, sparrows, deer antlers, and horses become symbols of the Native American’s regard for the spirituality of all things in the natural world.
Martinez states, “I think children are naturally superstitious. It is a way to make sense of a scary situation or event, a method used to manage fear. I had direct access to religious training so I integrated my superstitious tendencies into my faith. Ceremonies and spiritual traditions fascinated me. In particular, I was fascinated by Native American spirituality. As I read about the traditions, beliefs and world views, I found that my identity was more aligned with these beliefs.For many indigenous cultures, there is no separation of the spirit world and everyday aspects of daily life. The line between the seen and unseen is not a line at all, it is a blending.”
The burial platform became Martinez’s personal symbol after experiencing the loss of a beloved uncle to cancer. He states, “I became aware of how unprepared for loss I really was… the platform of the dead remain in plain sight without the shock of a decomposing corpse. This seemed to be an acceptance of the process of life in a manner that I wanted to attain. It was a level of understanding completely beyond my reach.”
Martinez is a professional designer and art director. He recently started his own firm.
Martinez works in oil, acrylic, oil pastels, charcoal, as well as collage with pencil drawings and pen and ink. He has shown extensively in Sacramento and throughout Northern California.
The Gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday 10:00 to 5:00.
Closer to the Sky
Paintings by Craig Martinez
July 14 to August 29, 2007
Second Saturday Opening and Reception
With a Reading by The Notorious Oglala Sioux Poet Luke Warm Water
6:00 to 9:00
Pacific Western Traders
305 Wool Street
Folsom, CA 95630-2550