LOS ANGELES — Patrick Martinez is giving us a virtual tour of his studio, but at each turn are real-life messages and images.
“Gloves, water; these are the things I’m thinking about and people are thinking about during this time. It’s just like the layering of the land.”
The Pasadena-born Filipino, Mexican, and Native American artist’s unique work has been displayed throughout the country, including the Smithsonian, and is currently at the Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles.
In recent years, Martinez has used his art to put a spotlight on pressing community issues — from immigrant rights to systemic racism, especially in light of the calls for an end to police brutality.
One of his most celebrated series is a remake of the classic school staple, the Pee-Chee folders.
Originally started in 2005, they’ve picked up more steam the past five years, as more cases of police brutality come to light.
“It’s kind of teaching without wanting to teach so the things I draw in they are about what kids and youth are learning in the time of now. So it could be more about the uprising now and why that’s happening, I’m drawing a portrait of Ahmad Aubrey, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, so it’s just kind of like the concept is something that I would be drawing during school, during class or sketching on a pee chee folder but it’s also stuff that I’m learning about and we’re all kind of learning about.”
This week, Martinez’ art will take center stage as Los Angeles Grand Park and The Music Center celebrates 4th of July, with its block party home-edition.
The celebration which will take place virtually on Grand Park’s social media accounts as well as on local television, will feature and honor other Filipinos in the community including DJ Sousupersam, restaurateur John Eric Concordia and improve group Filipino AF.
One of the highlights of Martinez’ art exhibit will be this 16-foot painting, made from bars, led lights — which pays homage to his parents, including his mother’s Tacloban, Leyte roots.
For the multicultural and multi-disciplined artist, he’s excited to bring his art into people’s homes.
“I like to reach out and share my work and see if it sparks some kind of interest in young people, I’m very happy to have that platform to share my work and it’s not just the same kind of format like a gallery or museum, I’m hoping to reach a new audience.”
While the neon signs and folders say a lot, they also do their part to make a difference in the community. Through his collaboration with the Charlie James Gallery, Martinez’s Pee-Chee Project helps raise funds for social justice movements.