St’artUp 317 is a competitive program that aims to match young brands, established businesses wanting to test a new market, startups and artists, with vacant and under-utilized first floor commercial space in downtown neighborhoods to create pop-up stores. Inspired by similar initiatives across the country St’artUp 317 is being coordinated by Downtown Indy, Inc in partnership with PATTERN in order to incubate viable retail businesses and long-term tenants, while supporting the creative class and improving the cultural profile of our city. The long-term goal of the program is to eliminate empty storefronts, increase local and visitor consumer spending and ensure that the Downtown neighborhoods continue thriving.
This series of stories highlights artists, entrepreneurs and businesses that were selected to participate in the pilot of St’ArtUp 317.
Despite her mother’s wishes for her to become a graphic designer, Anna Martinez, an artist and visual merchandiser originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, moved to Indianapolis to attend Herron School of the Art and Design in 2009 to study painting. It was not until her junior year, that she knew she wanted to be a professional collage artist.
Though Martinez always knew she wanted to be an artist, growing up in Fort Wayne she found a limited range of art styles and culture. Her college art classes delved more into the contemporary art world. This is when she realized: “the possibilities are endless.”
Martinez is now utilizing the opportunity to display her artwork in the windows of downtown Indianapolis through the St’Art Up 317 program.
Martinez’s minimalist collage approach to art is inspired by her favorite painter, Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly created shaped canvases and did a series of postcard collages, which sparked Martinez’s interest in collage work. Because of the amount of time it took to mix paint and make sure all the colors were right, Martinez decided to let go of painting. Working in collage on the other hand, the colors are already available and ready to be put together fairly quickly.
Her process begins with searching through her collection of fashion magazines to find pieces and start cutting with no particular idea in mind. Then, Martinez determines what images and colors work best together. From start to finish, the process of an entire piece takes about two hours. Experimenting with new materials and methods keeps things interesting for Martinez.
“There’s always something new to do, materials-wise or process-wise,” said Martinez.
Martinez describes her involvement with St’Art Up 317 as a good learning experience. She wants to move into three-dimensional collage, which involves blowing tiny magazine pieces up to life-size. In the future, she’d like to explore working with installations and rooms based on visual merchandising techniques using old mannequins, props and other materials. Working on her window space was a challenge in the beginning due to the pixelation of the images, but she maintains that “it’s always learning and growing.”
The St’Art Up 317 program has given Martinez the backing and credibility she feels is essential to her success as an artist. “I’m trying to gain connections to different people trying to do the same thing,” she says.
Thinking outside the box in terms of art is her challenge, being an individual artist. “It’s extremely hard getting those ideas going,” she says. She believes local artists have the potential to upgrade downtown Indianapolis creatively and artistically with the use of abandoned retail spaces.
Being in Indianapolis, Martinez is able to have her own affordable artist studio. “I have a whole separate space that I can go to, make a mess, do whatever and then have my house just be my home.”
Down the road, Martinez would like to use her talents in film and television, freelancing as a set stylist and wardrobe stylist for photo shoots and commercials. Her ideal career is to travel, doing shows solely as a studio artist, ensuring she will always have time to spend on her own creative ventures. Martinez says her art will always be about pleasing herself, not just a client.