We had the good fortune of connecting with Angelo Ray Martínez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angelo Ray, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up in Longmont, CO, a small town outside of Boulder. I loved video games as a child and started skateboarding and painting graffiti art in middle school. I think that these early influences developed an attraction to bold and graphic imagery. I am also a first generation college graduate, so I never really imagined myself in academia. I dropped out of high school my senior year and planned on becoming a tattoo artist. I was living in Denver, CO, and pursuing a tattoo apprenticeship when I decided to take a Painting I and Drawing I course at the local community college. It was there that I had an amazing professor that demystified the whole academic process. That experience really changed the direction of my live. I then went on to earn a GED, an associates degree at the Community College of Denver, a bachelor degree in Fine Arts at the University of Colorado Denver, and then went on to complete a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently working on an ongoing series, “Quest of the Steelhead”, which is a collection of paintings depicting scenes from an imaginary video game about fishing on the St. Joseph River of Indiana/Michigan (which is a river I personally fish quite often). Each composition becomes an aquatic metaphor that explores the complexities of experience and perception.
I recently exhibited a large-scale installation of these works at the South Bend Museum of Art in “Biennial 31”, a survey of contemporary artists living in the Midwest, curated by Misa Jeffereis. This series had been developing for a few years, but has only recently started to really come together conceptually, so it was great to exhibit them together in a museum setting.
One of the most important lessons I have learned as an artist is to keep developing an idea over a long period of time. When I first started these fish paintings in 2017, I had no idea where where they were going or what they would mean, but the series eventually started to gain momentum and direction. It was only through the process of intuitive making and critical reflection that the work was able to mature.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I currently live in South Bend, IN and teach at Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, so we would start by visiting the tri-campus community (Notre Dame University, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College). Each institution has a distinctly beautiful campus with many interesting sites to see. We would then spend some time fishing the St. Joseph River, trying to catch-and-release smallmouth bass, salmon, and steelhead, depending on the time of year. Finally, we would drive to Lake Michigan and spend some time on the gorgeous sand dunes and beaches!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout interview to my wife and fellow artist, Melonie Mulkey. We met in our undergraduate program in Denver, CO, and will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this year. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her love and support!
Check out her amazing photography at www.meloniemulkey.com