Gan Martin, an accomplished area artist who passed away in 2004, is still giving back to his community. Barbara Martin has donated two pieces of his artwork in his memory to the Southwestern Oregon Community College Foundation. The works are titled Woman at the Woodpile and Bastendorf Jetty.
The Southwestern Foundation, in cooperation with Southwestern’s Art Department, recently presented an exhibit of painting and drawing in the Eden Hall Fine Art Gallery on the Coos County campus. The memorial exhibit for Gan Martin focused on regional abstract/realism art.
In choosing these pieces, we wanted to show more of his variety."
Martin was a long time Coos Bay artist who integrated many aspects of 20th century artistic movements into his painting of landscape and still-life scenes of coastal and rural Oregon. His paintings and drawings are recognizable, realistic portrayals of seascapes, woodland settings, or simple rural buildings and vignettes. Yet his use of abstract shapes and lines imbue his work with an abstract and monumental quality.
As a resident of the Coos Bay area for more than 40 years, the Oregon coast and its timber and rural landscape figure prominently in his work. He found new ways of seeing and depicting ordinary objects and scenes that wove clever, profound and mysterious meaning into each composition. He painted everything, including firewood piles, rusty oil drums, and weathered windows and doorways; all held a fascination and power in their dark and brooding shapes that was equal to the brightly-colored and charismatic standing rocks in the bays and inlets of the south coast.
He would be very happy to have his work there and to influence students.”
He painted the familiar, sculpting it with a simplified and repetitive form and bright color that emphasized the patterns and structure of an object rather than its superficial textures and details. His rhythmic repetition of form and strong contour line created patterns that resulted in a life-affirming and energetic movement in the composition. Often he placed a mysterious figure in the scene with its back to the viewer, looking into the depth of the painting and giving a sense of longing and loneliness.
“It is a great honor to have more of his work at the college,” said Barbara Martin. “In choosing these pieces, we wanted to show more of his variety. He would be very happy to have his work there and to influence students.”