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Museum of Friends Courthouse Show; Ken Martinez

WALSENBURG- An artist, muralist and silversmith… Ken Martinez is this week’s featured artist from the ongoing Museum of Friends Courthouse show.

    There was no romantic “the  Peaks called to me” story for Martinez,.  "I pretty much showed up in Huerfano County at birth after generations of my family living in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.

    My interest in art started at the local Catholic school.  I started there in kindergarten, and my grade school started doing small caricature drawings.  This small talent amused people, and brought me some attention.

    Anyway to make a long story short, my father died when I was 12.  My mother plugged me into the Catholic school system, with 16 Benedictine nuns, with, it seemed, nothing to consider but my spiritual and academic well being.  The church and school kept me busy while Mom worked full time for the state of Colorado.

    I remember being more impressed with the artwork on the large flip pages used to teach the stories and doctrine of the Catholic faith than to the lessons themselves.  I did learn later, that the Catholics had a lot of “good art”  all over the world.  I continued to study about various fine art “processes, and practical procedures”, a phrase I remember from those books.  Silversmithing interested me.  I was the artist for various school/church projects, and artist for the high school newspaper.

    I recieved an academic scholarship to St. Michael′s in Santa Fe, NM and then to St. John′s, and then went to Europe to “study“ the masterpieces of the world."

    MArtinez did production jewelry in large cities in the Midwest and West Coast. then quickly realized that he had been born in Paradise- for him, nice climate, and lots of wilderness to explore.  Santa Fe was changing for the worse in his opinion.  He applied for a job with the local mental health center and started a drug and alcohol alternatives program.  While teaching various art media and activities, he met and worked with some artists from Huerfano County′s communes, as well as other local and area  artists to produce murals in the county, most of which still exist. 

    He continues, "I started Darkwood Studio and Gallery, and promptly went to work for the ski industry for the next 19 years.  I worked the studio in the summers and for Christmas.  It’s been a charmed life in Huerfano County.  Living most of my life in the county, I’ve made life-long friends throughout the Southwest.  Old and young, rich and poor.

    Circumstances made it necessary for me to be a caretaker of my “sainted” mother (91 on May 8th).  She has never made a mistake on my behalf.  I thought she had taught me everything, but the lessons I’m learning from her now seem to be the most important.

    My simple pencil drawing in the courthouse show is of the grave site of a lady who visited the courthouse a long time ago, and was made to “jump through the hoops” of a new government system.  The story accompanies the drawing."

    Darkwood Studio and Gallery is located at 518 Main St.  The studio produces custom jewelry, casting and fabricating, repairs, silver, gold and platinum, matting and framing, portraits, prints, sculpture, restorations, restringing, artifacts and fossils.

    Darkwood Studio and Gallery- 738-3413.  “Still closed on Powder Days.”