The bright, airy Michael and Noemi Neidorff Gallery inside Trinity’s Dicke-Smith building stands empty right now. Soon, though, the gallery will display its first show of the semester, under the direction of newly-hired gallery manager Mark Martinez.
Martinez, who was hired at the end of 2017 and who officially started his position at the beginning of the semester, said he is excited about being back on a university campus.
“I haven’t been on a university campus since grad school, so being back in the school setting is really fun,” Martinez said.
Of course, there has to be an adjustment period.
“When you start at the beginning of the year as an employee or even a student, you get that orientation about how things work, like, ‘This is TigerPAWS,’ and, ‘This is T-mail,’ so since I’m starting in the middle of the year, everyone’s just bringing me up to speed,” Martinez said.
Perhaps even more daunting — though he doesn’t seem fazed — Martinez isn’t filling anyone’s shoes, as his position is an entirely new one for Trinity. He will have to make his own way with the job, though with his previous work as a visual arts director at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, he has plenty of experience and seems more than up to the task.
Unfortunately for Martinez, he doesn’t have much time to catch his breath and settle into his new position before the first show, The Mini, opens on Jan. 25. The Mini is a competitive, student-juried exhibition for Trinity’s Art and Art History majors and minors, even undeclared ones. A faculty panel chooses the strongest proposals to display.
Martinez was quick to note a substantial change in this year’s iteration of the Mini.
“I guess in the past, [Trinity] has done one or two artists’ proposals in the space. Well this time, we have nine,” Martinez said.
“They all kind of talk to each other conceptually,” Martinez said. “There’s a lot of landscape, body conversation happening within the exhibition, so we’ll see that in sculpture, photography and watercolor.”
The students of the art department are just as excited about the upcoming exhibition and Martinez’s hiring. Alex Motter, a sophomore business analytics major and Chinese and English minor, expressed his enthusiasm for the new gallery director and his approach to managing the future show.
“Mark is incredibly kind. I like the fact that he treats us the students with respect and as a peer. He respected that we have worked hard on creating our pieces for the exhibit and took notes to make sure the final layout reflects our artistic vision as best as possible,” Motter wrote in an email interview.
Another student, junior art and psychology double major Abigail Wharton, finds Martinez’s hiring encouraging for the future of the department.
“I was very excited to hear that we had actually hired a gallery director. I think it’s a strong commitment by our department to showing art on a consistent basis and showing artists that their work is important to us and we’re going to show it as beautifully and professionally as we possibly can,” Wharton wrote in an email interview.
One of Martinez’s self-professed goals for the gallery is the attraction of a wider audience to exhibitions.
“I know a lot of folks in the local community, I know a lot of folks in other arts admin positions across the city, you know, so folks at Blue Star [Contemporary], Artpace, Linda Pace [Foundation]. One of the problems that Trinity has kind of faced is [that] it can be a little insular — it’s so self-sufficient that, in a way, it doesn’t need the rest of the city to create its own programming, so that’s a gift and a curse. Bringing in an outside eye, but at the same time a local eye, to our exhibitions here and showing the importance of our campus … I think will be really important,” Martinez said.
Liz Day, a junior art and art history double major, is enthusiastic about Martinez’s goal.
“I would love to have a wider audience for the gallery. With at least two student exhibits, The Mini and the Senior Show, having a bigger audience may help student artists network and grow,” Day wrote in an email interview.
Motter, Wharton and Day each expressed their anticipation of the upcoming Mini exhibition and their dedication to their respective pieces.
Motter added that he hopes there will be a large turnout to the exhibition’s opening night.
The Mini exhibition’s opening reception is Jan. 25 from 5–7 p.m. in the Neidorff Gallery. Stop by to see Trinity artists show off their work.