This afternoon I went to see Riley Martin’s artwork at Blast Gallery in Teaneck, New Jersey. Mr. Martin also gave a short talk about himself and his artwork before the official opening. The following is taken directly from his website.
“Riley L. Martin was born May 9, 1946, in Mississippi to a family of sharecroppers of African American and Native American descent. This story starts one night when Riley was seven years old… he saw a strange light out by the river, he tried to wake up his brothers and not one of them would wake from their sleep. The next night the lights were brighter and little Riley was more excited and this time he tried to wake up everyone in the house including his parents. Then on the third night when the lights appeared again he didn’t attempt to wake his family… he took his trusted dog Brownboy and they went to the river to investigate.
That fateful night; two aliens took little Riley on his first trip to their mothership near Saturn. Riley’s second trip was when he was 18. It was on this trip that they placed a strange looking headset on him… then in a matter of seconds download into his brain… 144,000 different symbols…then while Riley slept they downloaded the history of humanity, alien insights, and a whole lot more. Riley made friends with this little alien he calls Tan. O-Qua Tangin Wann.”
Mr. Martin has a captivating speaking voice. I sat and listened as he spoke from what looked like a dj booth surrounded by Christmas lights in the basement of the gallery. Thinking back on it now, it had a magical quality, almost like hearing a storyteller while sitting around a campfire. After his talk he answered questions and signed his artwork in the gallery.
If you don’t live near Blast Gallery you can still purchase his artwork through the Gallery’s site . But if you do live in the area the gallery is well worth the visit for not only the artwork but also the wonderfully unique items in their store. You can find records, books, housewares, and even tiny Mexican wrestlers.