“Microblast” at Project One Gallery in the Design District of San Francisco features the work of respected artists Jet Martinez and his wife, Kelly Ording.  Gallery Director Brooke Waterhouse brought Martinez and Ording together for the first time in this special exhibition, which features some of the best work from both artists thus far.

Working side by side in their home studio, the Oakland based couple takes the viewer down two divergent paths, which eventually meander together in visual poetry.  What we’re left with is an experience that is no less than art on many levels, with both Martinez and Ording offering us each something uniquely different.

Jet Martinez is well know for his bold use of colors and gradient patterns dirived from Oaxacan folk art influences.  Focusing on creating subdued black patterned background, Martinez then chooses an animal to represent his inner-self in the works.  This “self portrait” animal – be it frog, snake, or butterfly – exhibits the many sides of the artist’s psyche, his focus, and his depth of  skill.  Martinez places colors together, line after line, slowly revealing animals that can best be described as vividly shamanistic.  These characters seem to breath life from the walls, with colors that interplay perfectly in a multitude of sensory combinations.

Kelly Ording’s work on the other hand represents the dichotomy of the uncontrollable and the controllable.  Her etherial works have progressed over the years, becoming more detailed, while letting the actual process of creation guide the overall final artwork.  Ording lets the materials influence her decision making, and to the direction her pieces will eventually manifest.  The works are meant to pull the viewer in, open up the subconscious, while allowing the participant to explore their own memories and inspirations in the process.  A bold concept that Ording executes perfectly.

And it is clear that both artists are a clear inspiration to one another, yet both are entirely individual in the work they produce.  It’s in this dichotomy in their own relationship where the interest in their individual work deepens, showing us how two artists can influence one another, yet remain different overall.

A clear highlight of the show entitled “Rana” by Martinez features a vulnerable multicolored frog sitting majestically within a velvety black background.   Within this work Martinez exhibits a focus and intensity with his choice of colors, and shows us what can be technically created with acrylic paint.  A testement of his time and energy spent working with the medium, the artist’s efforts have paid off, leaving the viewing public with finely crafted works that flow like enamel, yet still retail the vibrant color sheen of acrylics.

In contrast “Baleen” a large ink on dyed paper work inspired by barnacles growing on whales represents 90+ hours of repetition by Kelly Ording. The artist was inspired by concept of “one vs. many”, and decided to entertain this idea of strength through personal creative repetition in this large scale work.  Standing in front of “Baleen”, one enters a meditative space where time and space seem to stop, and the viewer is allowed to breath mentally.  During the opening evening of “Microblast” gallery patrons scanned the surface of the work, going back and forth, exploring the details in every way possible.  Ording’s work strikes a chord with viewers on the inside, asks for their inspirations, and maybe even gives a few back in the process.

Both artists have continued to grow artistically, and in doing so, have captured the eyes of those outside the art community.

Martinez has been participating in the now esteemed Facebook mural residency, which made artist David Choe a multi millionaire overnight earlier this year.  The residency has gained quite a bit of notoriety since then, and Facebook has taken the idea of selecting future artists seriously.  Jet Martinez made the cut, and has since completed murals within the social media giant’s walls.  He also continues to be the director of the Mission District’s acclaimed Clarion Alley Mural Project, which has grown to become a major San Francisco landmark over the past few years.

Ording was recently named one of the top 20 artists in San Francisco by Asterisk Magazine, as well as joining her husband for a few mural creations of her own at Facebook headquarters.  She continues to show her work around the country, and it seems that her popularity in conceptual art circles continues to grow.

We suggest checking this show out, there’s some great work on display which shouldn’t be missed.  “Microblast” features over twenty works by both Jet Martinez and Kelly Ording, and runs through Sept. 29th, 2012  (open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday at Project One).

– Review and Photos by Michael Cuffe for Warholian


For more info on the show, visit Project One Gallery online here:  http://p1sf.com/events/microblast/

Visit Jet Martinez online here:  http://www.jetromartinez.com  or Kelly Ording here:  http://www.kellyording.com/