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Local artist David Arthur Martinez on the importance of First Fridays

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The longtime Denver artist David Arthur Martinez said the monthly art crawls help with exposure, feedback, and financial stability.
Photo: Lizzie Mulvey, Rocky Mountain PBS

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Longtime Denver artist and educator David Arthur Martinez paints alone, but kicking off his new exhibition at 40 West Arts First Friday Art Walk brought his focus back to community.

“You know, [when] we think about community, you know, even though when I paint at home, I’ll be [kind of] isolated,” Martinez said. “This is my opportunity to interact with people, to share my understanding and to find out more about their understanding.”

Martinez has been creating art for about 24 years. He said he is continually growing through his art, and believes he is confident today through sharing ideas with other artists.

“I love talking to other artists from other mediums. It’s really interesting for me to learn about their process and I love sharing my process,” he said. 

Colorado Voices

Local artist shares why First Fridays are unique

His art exhibit, “Amor Eterno,” showcases his love of his Mexican American culture, featuring colorful Día De Los Muertos canvas paintings.

Martinez said he feels inspired by late 1800s artist Vincent van Gogh inspired him because the two share a stretching-the-canvas technique.

“When I was 18 [years old] and took my first class in college, I had a teacher who told me that any artist worth their salt would stretch their own canvas,” Martinez said.

Martinez’s colorful paintings come alive through multiple layers of vibrant acrylic paint. He starts with a drawing on a transparent paper that is shown through an overhead projector, where he then traces his drawing on the canvas.

“Some of these paintings will have six, seven, [or] eight layers of paint,” he said. “But it also to my opinion gives [my paintings] a richness.”

Martinez said feedback from guests as well as fellow artists is vital to his success, and is one of his favorite parts of First Fridays.
Photo: Lizzie Mulvey, Rocky Mountain PBS

Feedback and critiques from the public is also something Martinez said he values from participating in First Fridays.

“I’ve been fortunate enough over the course of years being an artist meeting a lot of people and making a lot of friends and I’ve had a wonderful support group that share my work and give me encouragement and enthusiasm, which for an artist is really important,” said Martinez.

The first unofficial First Friday dates back to the early 2000s in Denver's Santa Fe Arts District. The tradition has deep ties with the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council (CHAC) Gallery. CHAC now has an office at 40 West.

The 40 West Arts Creative District is showcasing a wide variety of arts and culture throughout November into the first week of January. 40 West Arts Creative is along West Colfax and the adjacent W Line light rail corridor in northeast Lakewood. The organization’s goal is to create equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts sector.

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS.

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