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André Martínez Reed

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Percussionist. Painter. Photographer. Artisan. Contractor. Gallery owner. Curator. 

André Martínez Reed is a man for whom the path from mind to heart to hands is clear. He knows what he wants to see and hear in the world, and he reaches out to physically bring it into existence. A true Renaissance man.

Born in Brooklyn in 1955 to a father of Puerto Rican and Spanish descent, and a mother of English, French and Central American descent. Martinez grew up in an environment where artistic expression, particularly music, was highly prized. His uncle Frankie "Tito" Martinez was a musician, bandleader, teacher, and arranger who created charts for Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Joe Cuba among others. Another uncle, Angel “Agapito” Marrero, was a guitarist who leads his orchestra and worked with Tito Guizar, Xavier Cugat, and many others. His father Enrique Hank Martinez was a builder and master carpenter of high-end cabinetry and inventor.

As a youth in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Martinez studied in gifted and talented programs. As part of this program, he credits his jazz teacher and mentor at the time Fred Silverman for turning his life around. A significant event in his life took place when Marianne McPartland as part of a school program took him and class to meet Leonard Bernstein in rehearsal at Lincoln Center, followed by a meeting with Beverly Sills and then to meet Buddy Rich at his club in NYC. 

He gained exposure to jazz, classical music and more through school and college, while learning about Latin and world music from relatives and other players and music teachers, including jazz drummer Beaver Harris, orchestral music with Rick Kravitz and fusion rock with Narada Michael Walden, Brazilian music with percussionists Guilhermo Franco, Alyrio Lima and Dom Um Romao. Latin, Afro Cuban with Jerry Gonzalez, Frankie Malabe, Milton Cardona, Jackie Maisonet, Baba Chief Bey, Pedro Morejon and many others.

In the early 1980s, Martinez embarked on a personal and creative relationship with pianist Cecil Taylor that ultimately lasted over two decades, including 11 years as an active member of Taylor’s band. He toured the world as Taylor’s drummer/percussionist, appearing on the albums Nicaragua: No Pasaran and Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants) the video Burning Poles and many others, as well as performing hundreds of shows during a period that introduced a new theatricality and cohesiveness to the group’s presentation. Recently celebrated at the new Whitney Museum - Cecil Taylor/Open Plan exhibition in 2016.

He also founded the critically acclaimed avant-garde world fusion band Earth People, who have released several albums to date and performed at traditional and alternative spaces throughout the five boroughs of New York.

As the 21st Century began, Martinez opened the renowned Henry Gregg Gallery, showing his work as well as that of kindred spirits. The gallery shows were fundamental in the years 2004 - 2010 in turning DUMBO in Brooklyn New York into a major art destination and a major attraction for people from around the world. In 2010 his show In The Zone/A Century Of Black and White Photography was selected as one of the top 20 exhibitions in the United States alongside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, Howard Greenberg Gallery and other prestigious museums and galleries. The gallery produced over 40 major exhibitions. In 2018 he was selected to be the "Juror of Awards" at the Members and Non-Members Photography Exhibition at the renown Salgamundi Art Club in NYC. 

“I love to create as though I was a prehistoric man who had only to follow his God-given resources and imagination,” says Martinez. “It has taken me many years of study and practice to look at the world as a blank canvas, and every struggle and pain encountered on the way as a new opportunity to enlighten the world. In my mind, I mix it all up in a centrifuge to separate the useful from the waste and use it to make my art. 

I believe that spirit in art – the quality I call "soul expression" – is available to all seekers. I also believe that, as the great Margaret Meade observed, "It only takes a few dedicated citizens to change the world. It is the only thing that ever has." We are living in estranged times dominated by limitation, conformity, surveillance, obedience, and institutionalization.

I believe a great work of art captures a spirit that has been waiting to be released. In my creative process, I try to challenge myself to work as though I was a prehistoric man with only his experience, resources and imagination to bring to the situation, maybe one he was to be the first to encounter. As did Francis Bacon, I value trial and error, setting the stage for a picture to come into being. "The artist who surrenders to the universe the universe will remember," Pissarro quoted.

It has taken me many years of study and practice to look not only at the blank canvas and see it as a window onto a world and into the universe. To envision the seen and unseen in one's everyday existence and make it appear on canvas. A blank canvas with every struggle and knockdown regarded as an unexpected opportunity to do things differently in my quest to enlighten and to separate the useful from the waste and make my art.

Picasso once said:"I am not an artist." As for me, I would call myself a craftsman. I speak from long experience when I say that being at once an artist, musician, photographer, craftsman and former gallery director is very challenging. However, my pursuits mingle well, and my creative process never stops. If one approaches everything as an artist, then everything you do is art and creation. Insolvency motivated Rembrandt! His refusal to surrender was the foundation of his legacy.

I believe that if you dance with Destiny, the angels will clear a path for you on your journey, the spirit of art is in the pursuit of truth and beauty and the embrace of the unknown! I believe that spirit in art – the quality I call "soul expression" – is available to all seekers. 


                                             "A great painting has to have universal meaning"- Balthus.

http://burningambulance.com/2015/03/23/cecil-taylor-in-1983/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67S4GNcdKas http://www.janstrom.se/1.-portfolio/andré-martinez-13983357 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7gU06UU4p4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7gU06UU4p4https://bwgallerist.com/2011/01/02/favorites-best-of-the-best-photography-exhibits-2010/ http://www.nyartbeat.com/archive/venue/2E8A56F6https://soundcloud.com/user335021401/01-cecil-taylor-unit-ballet-basel-pt-2 http://earthpeople.tv/press.htm

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