Art21 New York Close Up

Eddie Martinez Is Ready For His New York Close Up

Artist Eddie Martinez paints in his Greenpoint, Brooklyn studio (2.23.12). Production still from the Art21 New York Close Up film, “Eddie Martinez Whistles While He Works.” © Art21, Inc. 2012.

Hot off the Mac Pro tower (well, hot off the Mac Pro tower yesterday), our latest film: “Eddie Martinez Whistles While He Works.”

I have to admit–shooting the material that forms the heart of this film, an afternoon in Eddie Martinez’s studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn–was one of the more intense, enlightening, and privileged shoot experiences I’ve had on location for the New York Close Up project.

It was our second shoot day together. The crew showed up–just myself, the very gifted camera man Rafa Salazar, and a compact HDSLR camera package–at the studio and Eddie immediately dived in to a new painting. I really mean dived in, spray painting before the primer had time to truly set. Before the shoot, Rafa and I had talked about a handheld, stalking, almost predatory approach. The operative metaphor was a boxing match, and we were Eddie’s opponent, bobbing and weaving in and around Eddie as he in turn boxed against his painting. I knew from previously shooting with Eddie that I wanted to visually dramatize Eddie’s very physical process with our own kind of pointed movement.

And Eddie certainly delivered the punches. With spray paint, rags, spray bottles, scrapers, and thumbs Eddie literally attacked the painting. And Rafa followed along with, establishing a darting rhythm in time with Eddie’s movements. As a frustrated painter and in general, a plodding worker myself, watching Eddie was a liberating lesson in just getting your marks, literally your first thoughts down, and building quickly from there. As a documentary producer, Eddie’s open-ness to us, the physical proximity he allowed us to himself and his process, felt like a very rare thing.  By the end of the day, Eddie was happy with what was really just a first stage in the long process of making a painting.  But I felt we had documented something complete in its own right.

There’s no doubt been a healthy supply of films depicting painters working in their studio over the years. But despite the saturation, I had faith that an intensely focused portrait of Eddie in the studio would deliver something more than the norm, that it could add something new to the old experience of painter’s painting. I hope it panned out.