Martinez Gallery Brings “Free Radicals” to ALL CITY — An Uptown Space Where Graffiti and Medicine Coalesce

January 6, 2015

noxer-kaput-giz-martinez-gallery

While visiting the Free Radicals graffiti exhibit at ALL CITY this past Friday, I had the opportunity to speak to noted Martinez Gallery director Hugo Martinez who — together with Dr. Juan Tapia — envisioned and helped realize this wonderful space that serves as a graffiti art gallery, arts center and pediatric clinic.

What an amazing venture this is! A pediatric clinic, a dynamic art gallery and lounge all sharing the same space. Whose concept was this?

It was Einstein’s. “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity and form,” he once stated. There is a natural synthesis between art and medicine, and a health clinic is an ideal setting to realize it.

Noxer

What made this extraordinary space possible?

2.5 million dollars and seven years.

Who were the main forces behind it?

I work with Dr. Juan Tapia, a pediatrician and former graffiti artist known as C.A.T. 87.  We were inspired to observe and measure evidence-based results of fusing two seemingly antithetical concepts.

"Navy8 and False"

How did you two come to collaborate?

I met Juan over 40 years ago when I was a student at City College and he was a Warlord for the neighborhood division of the Young Savage Nomads gang.  In 1972, we co-founded the United Graffiti Artists (UGA) as an alternative community to the established art world. Juan then went on to earn his GED and attend college and medical school. We have since collaborated on many community-based art and health projects. And in 2008, we established the ALL CITY Foundation.

Can you tell us something about the ALL CITY Foundation?

It is a community-based health and arts collaborative that has brought together a network of medical practitioners, artists and designers to create and run coordinated health and art programs for youth in New York City.

Navy8

Your current exhibit, Free Radicals, is a remarkable representation of various works in different media by a range of prolific artists.

Yes. All of the artists in this exhibit have established all-city reputations, most in NYC and a few in other large cities.

Why did you choose this particular space on the corner of 135th Street and Broadway? It is quite impressive.

It is close to City College, where UGA was first established. And the lay-out of the building, the former Claremont Theater – a 22,500-square-foot landmark that was the first theater to show photoplays — is perfectly designed for our purposes.

Soviet

from-the-outside-martinez

What’s ahead?

A range of programs, activities and revolving art exhibits.

Note: Free Radicals continues through March 31 at 3332 Broadway at 135th Street in Harlem. All artworks are for sale. You can follow the Martinez Gallery online at martinezgallery.com and on Instagram at instagram.com/martinezgallery. You can also visit the space with NY1 and check out this recent story in the New York Times.

Photos

1. Kaput, Noxer and Giz

2Noxer

3. False and Navy8

4. Navy8

5. Soviet, close-up

6. Various artists, as seen from the outside looking inside

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky


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