In his paintings and prints, Native American artist Mario Martinez, also known as Mars-1, constructs complex abstract images that resemble photographs of distant galaxies; he often calls these images “metascapes.” There is an undeniably fantastical, even dreamlike, quality to his works, which is somewhat tempered by their distinct lines and bold colors. Still, Martinez is wary of ascribing a fixed meaning to his work. He says, “My work is definitely very personal. I feel that some of it, not all of it, has some kind of . . . intelligence or life of its own . . . like something is looking back at you.”
Martinez is a Yaqui Indian from Penjamo (in Scottsdale), the smallest of six Yaqui settlements, in Arizona. He is a member of The Pasqua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. After an early art career in San Francisco, he moved to New York City in 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from School of Art, Arizona State University in Tempe and his master’s of fine arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute.
His work has been exhibited in 2005 in a one-person retrospective at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York. Other group exhibitions include: “Who Stole the Tee Pee?” at the National Museum of the American Indian, New York; “AlieNation” at the American Indian Community House Gallery and the Contemporary Artists Federation Group Show in Saitama, Japan. In 2000, he was a visiting professor of art at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and in 2001 he received the Native Artist in Residence Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian. In 2005, Mario completed a commission for the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona; a 22 foot mural called “Sonoran Desert: Yaqui Home” as part of “Home: Desert Peoples in the Southwest” exhibition.