Recombination | Painting and Sculpture by Art Martin and Lee Brown


Art League Gallery | December 15 – February 24, 2012

Click here to view a brief portion of the artists’ talk at the exhibition reception on January 4, 2013.

Recombination is an exploration of storytelling, of the combining of familiar elements and objects into new forms and relationships. Found items, both depicted and physical, are merged with others in landscape and sculptural forms, adding their own inherent and narrative characteristics. These characteristics are enhanced or altered in their new context. In this way, the familiar becomes new, or is re-examined or experienced in an unfamiliar way. – Art Martin and Lee Brown

Art Martin‘s (b. 1975, Blytheville, AK) intricately rendered still life, portrait, and landscape paintings reference the symbols and structures of Renaissance painting to invite a closer examination of the everyday things normally recognized and quickly discounted. Discarded items like marbles, seeds, insects, bones, toys, and patterned fabrics are rendered actual size in precise arrangements. The landscapes are small, to establish a sense of intimacy and possession. Within the Cabinet Landscapes are everyday objects, but in new scale and in context with visually or conceptually sympathetic still life elements.

The Travelogue paintings speak to the human habit of imbuing the inanimate with life and personality. Stuffed animals pose in landscapes that recall family travel photos and Renaissance portraiture, interspersed with portraits of contemporary people in similar display.

Martin received an MFA from Wichita State University in 2000, and is currently the Collections Manager/Assistant Curator at the Muskegon Museum of Art.

A graduate of Kendall School of Design, Lee Brown‘s (b. 1956, Grand Rapids, MI) cabinets and lidded boxes speak to the sacred vessel-ornate containers of treasured and mystical objects. Their surfaces convey the passage of time while references to Neolithic art, Chinese architecture, and African design motifs intermingle to create new and varied narratives. The visual character of the reclaimed wood conveys history, physical evidence of the witness of time and the elements. This character is enhanced by the layering of color and paint, stripped away with selective sanding, creating the weathered effect. Carved stones with simple, repetitive patterns recall Neolithic artwork. The forms themselves are inspired by shapes from cultures around the world and throughout history.

Brown’s found object assemblages, some of which include small paintings by Martin, merge the history of varied materials into visual stories, layers to be explored and riddles to be solved. Each element’s own story is changed by its new relationships and context. The viewer’s own familiarity with these objects changes the formula yet again.

In addition to his sculpture, Brown also works in product styling, industrial design, graphic design and illustration.

Taken together, the work of Lee Brown and Art Martin speak of a fascination with object, and the narrative and emotive possibilities of the everyday when blended and conveyed in stories both familiar and new. 

image: Art Martin, Cabinet Landscape:Grand Rapids 131 S, 2012, oil on hardboard, 11″ x 4.5″;Lee Brown, Promethues Cabinet; Art Martin and Lee Brown,Cabinet Landscape: Sherman Bowling, 2012, oil on hardboard, found objects, wood (detail)