Aspen artist goes big with painting
BASALT – Everything’s big in Texas, including some of the art projects, as Aspenite Christopher Martin learned this fall.
The artist was commissioned to create one of his unique pieces in “reverse glass” painting for the grandstand lounge at the new Circuit of the Americas, a $400 million racetrack facility in Austin, Texas.
Technically, Martin was hired to create one piece of art. In reality, it’s big. Really big. His piece, “Velocity,” is on 15 acrylic panels, each of them 5 by 8 feet. The panels in the 120-foot piece are fused together. “Velocity” is one flowing piece of art that exudes speed and grace.
Martin needed a big space to create the big piece. He saw a vacant commercial site in Basalt’s Willits Town Center this fall and enlisted the help of leasing agent Tim Belinski to secure the spot temporarily. Beginning Oct. 1, Martin worked from shortly after sunrise until sunset each day through the third week of the month. There are no lights in the space, so he was limited to natural light.
The reverse-glass painting technique is traced back to the 14th century; Martin adds modern twists. He adds multiple layers of pigment and water on the acrylic panels using tools, wind, gravity and sun. Between 30 and 40 layers are eventually piled on in an intricate way.
Martin said he needed extra hands for the work. He wouldn’t say precisely the tools of his trade.
“Let’s just say you can’t find them at the art store. You have to go to the hardware store,” he said.
Martin was commissioned for the piece because Bobby Epstein, chairman and co-founder of the Circuit of the Americas, saw some of Martin’s work at his Aspen studio. Another of Martin’s works was used as the general model for the new piece, but there was no specific direction and definitely no design by committee.
“It was a handshake and ‘Go for it,'” Martin said.
The installation will pose a new challenge. The 15 panels will hang 20 feet in the air. They must be completely in sync because each panel flows into its neighbors. It will be installed by Nov. 11.
Martin’s work will get its first big exposure Nov. 18 when the new Austin facility hosts the Formula One United States Grand Prix. The course and facilities on 1,100 acres are booked to host some of the most prestigious racing events in the world.
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