This last holiday season, I went to what was probably the most fun holiday party I’ve ever been to. It was the SLUG staff Christmas party at Totem’s, and the theme was Twin Peaks. For those of you who haven’t heard of Twin Peaks, it was a short-lived TV show from the early ‘90s created by the amazingly talented and dark David Lynch. The story starts out in Twin Peaks, a made-up town in Washington, where main character Laura Palmer is found dead and wrapped in plastic on the shore of the town lake. The “A”-list-of-the-day cast spends the rest of the show (there were only two seasons) attempting to solve and/or being suspected of the murder. It’s brilliant and weird and, toward the end, gets seriously fucked up. I showed up to the SLUG party dressed as “Dead Laura Palmer.”
Becoming re-obsessed with Twin Peaks, posting nonstop about it on my various social medias, my fabulous artist friend, Kat Martin, suggested immortalizing myself as “dead, wrapped in plastic” in a piece of art. Kat Martin is an artist who, even though you may not realize, you’re most likely familiar with—because she’s part of every arts festival, craft fair and farmer’s market. “Brilliant” is the word I use to describe her craft—it’s simple yet effective, and she has cornered the market with her genre of art. It’s recycling at its finest form: Martin will seek out hand-painted items from a thrift store, oftentimes a landscape scene, and then modify the piece of art, copying the brush stroke and the technique of the original artist as close as she can, adding a myriad of—well, whatever the hell tickles her fancy, or that of her customers. Mrs. Martin goes way outside the box in her subject choices: Zombies, Doctor Who, Muppets, Sharktopus, Star Wars and her latest, a Breaking Bad series.
I first became obsessed with Kat’s art when my friend Joey turned me on to her at Craft Sabbath, and I was truly amazed at the scale she worked on—some of her paintings are quite large—but what’s more was that Joey was commissioning a piece from her. He had her customize one of her recycled beauties to depict the Creature from the Black Lagoon carrying a boy from the swamp. Well, that was it—I needed one, too. I immediately booked Martin at Ulysses Salon, where I had started curating art shows with the sole intent of acquiring one.
I’ve written before about my “art of me” collection. To date, I have around 20 pieces from various friends and artists. Kat delivered not only my favorite out of the nearly two dozen I have, but easily the general public’s fave in my “Me” gallery. It’s me in an autumnal setting by a creek as a tattered and disheveled zombie fairy. The best part is my black unicorn springing from the trees in the background.
Over the past couple years of watching Martin, I’ve seen her art not only flourish, but I’ve watched this business woman’s empire grow. Her booths are always packed with curious buyers and passersby. What’s more is that she’s taken it one step further to include posters, cards and magnets of her art, making her quite possibly one of the most successful artists I know in SLC.
Kat’s talents aren’t just that of this kitschy nature—she is a real, honest-to-god artist who has some amazing talent. Last fall, I moved into a new and much brighter top-floor apartment. My art had been living in a darker residence and, when I got it hung in my new place, I was able to see how dirty and neglected it was actually looking. I have a really great print of Van Gogh’s “Soldier” that was looking fairly sad, so I took a damp cloth over what I thought was a print. To my horror, I was the owner of a much more delicate painted replica of the masterpiece that now had a huge blurry spot wiped out of it.
After I had wept and sufficiently beaten myself up for the mistake, I gave Kat a call to see if she felt secure enough to fix my wretched boner. “Totally,” she responded, as if I had asked her to pour me a drink. One month later, she showed up with a restored painting that looked like it had just come off the original easel.
Back to being “Dead, Wrapped in Plastic.” I already had a giant-sized portrait from the lovely and talented Kat Martin and, quite frankly, I’m running out of wall space in Le Gallery du Kennedy—what was I to do? While on a shopping expedition at a random flea market in Central Coast, Calif., I came across a delicate, bone china dish with a hand-painted lake on it. It was perfect, but could Kat rise to the challenge of the small scale? She did, and it took her all of one day—what can’t she do?!
It’s evident that Kat loves what she does, which is not her day job, by the way. Kat’s not making millions off her art, but she makes time to do what she loves, and that’s what I love most about her! As you go in and out of your soul-sucking job, remember that there is a Kat Martin in all of us—it only takes an idea to spark an empire and make hundreds of people smile, and most importantly, yourself. Kudos, Kat. You did it again.
For a more detailed scope into the artist that is Kat Martin (and to commission your own zombie family portrait), head to artistkat.com.