Art . Music . Photography . Video . Writing


1975 - a serious dude (!)

2012 - less formal, more relaxed (?)

Frank M (Martinez)

Frank M (Martinez), (born 1 December 1949) is an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, artist, and educator based in Los Angeles. He was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Tour Grant in 1980–1981 and an Educational Partnership Grant for Global Music in 1993. He studied music composition with Louis Andriessen and Gilius van Bergeijk[1] at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the Netherlands and participated in master classes in Madrid and Santiago de Compostella, Spain in 1973 with Andres Segovia, the renowned classical guitarist. In Madrid the class took place at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, and in Santiago de Compostella he received a Diploma for Interpretacion e Informacion at the XVI Curso Universitario Internacional de Musica Espanola.[2] He is also an accomplished multi-media artist and sculptor, whose interest in the interdisciplinary arts is reflected in his many varied works.


Martinez was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, a city known for its musical life. Music was considered a natural part of everyday life and was valued within his family as well as the larger culture as a whole. His grandmother played the organ at church and in the 1920s accompanied silent films on the piano. His mother was accomplished on both the cornet and the French Horn. Martinez also had a great grandfather from Switzerland who played the violin. Throughout his youth he studied and performed on the clarinet and began guitar lessons in his late teens. His first teacher, Hank Mackie, was a local jazz guitarist.[3] In a short amount of time Martinez was getting reviews in the Times Picayune Newspaper by the music critic Frank Gagnard[4] and producing radio programs on the National Public Radio station WWNO. His program was entitled "Reverie," and ran for several years. He also produced a program on the renowned 20th century harpsichord player Wanda Landowska. He then received a grant from the Brazilian Consulate in New Orleans. Rocque Da Motta was the Brazilian Consul General and was keen on promoting the music of Heitor Villa Lobos. Martinez gave several concerts of the music of Villa Lobos which included the Sexteto Mistico(1917) for flute, oboe, saxophone, harp, guitar, and celesta as well as solo works and works for voice and guitar. Martinez wrote to Villa Lobos' wife, Arminda Villa Lobos[5] in Brazil in hope of finding several early pieces, which were written for guitar. He received a letter from her stating that these works had unfortunately been lost. She also expressed gratitude for the performances, which had taken place in New Orleans. At a later date, C. J. McNaspy, S. J., a well-known Jesuit scholar and musicologist, utilized the recordings from Martinez's concerts in his lectures given at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand in Brazil.[6]

This association with the music of Villa Lobos and later, Carlos Chavez, was the beginning of a long interest in the music of many world cultures and their indigenous music, i.e. ethnomusicology. Martinez began collecting many musical instruments from various cultures and began incorporating varying musical concepts, forms, motifs, and rhythms into his own compositions. This led to a NEA Tour Grant in which he focused on promoting and performing his own musical compositions. This culminated with a performance of works in 1978, which were created for a group of modern dancers at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans.

Martinez then developed two other musical paths. One was the interest in early music and the lute in particular and the other was an interest in the music of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and other composers who were involved in the musical movement known as minimalism. He then went to Europe and studied the lute with Toyohiko Satoh and composition with Louis Andriessen as well as electro-acoustic music with Gilius van Bergeijk. Upon returning from the Netherlands, he moved to California.


Although Martinez had performed in such diverse venues as the Gemeente Museum in the Hague, Netherlands for their Contemporary Music Festival, as well as Vanderbilt University[7] in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Exit Inn with Dizzy Gillespie, he decided to return to Graduate School at the USC School of Music. He studied musical composition with Joseph Smith and guitar with James Smith. He performed in master classes with Manuel Barrueco, Christopher Parkening, David Leisner, and David Russell.

Martinez performed with members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet at the Ojai Festival. They performed a Vivaldi Concerto for two guitars and two lutes. The first string players in the orchestra were members of the Kronos Quartet and there was also a work by Bohuslav Martinu on the program. Martin Bernheimer, the music critic for the LA Times, gave a favorable review.[8]

Along with all of this activity came many other concerts with flute and guitar as a member of the Pacifica Duo with flautist Katrina Curry. During this period of time, in the mid 1980's, began another stream of artistic influence. This was in the area of the visual arts. Martinez, through his musical composition, had developed experimental means of writing musical notation in the 1970s, and some of these works eventually developed into visual works of art. At that time he would have exhibits of his art in specific venues while giving concerts.[9] After studying with the artist Margit Omar at USC in 1983, he began an entire parallel career in painting, printmaking, and sculpture.


The strongest influence upon Martinez's music in the early years of composition were the music from the Renaissance and Medieval periods as well as the music of Heitor Villa Lobos. These were influences, which grew naturally from performing such works on the classical guitar and lute. Martinez constructed a book on the life and works of Conrad Paumann, a musician from the 15th century. He transcribed many of the original works from early organ tablature into lute tablature. This led to writing a musical work in the form of a theme with variations. This was a form that developed in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. At that time the variations were referred to as differencias. This work was an "Homage" to Conrad Paumann. His work entitled "Chant" for guitar is also an example of a piece influenced by Medieval chant. Along side this influence was the exotic music of Villa Lobos. This nurtured an interest in African music in particular. The complex polyrhythms, as well as the use of repetitive motifs were incorporated into such works as "African Sketches" for guitar as well as "Myth Music 1" for gemshorn. This later work combines a medieval musical instrument with the simplified, repetitive rhythmic qualities of African music. This cross cultural, or pan-musical approach to musical composition, i.e. the using of musical concepts from various world cultures and mixing in musical instruments from a wide array of countries slowly became an approach to musical composition.


Martinez's sculpture is primarily in wood and stone. He also has worked extensively in various drawing media as well as various printmaking media. The drawings and prints (etchings, aquatints, mezzotints), are connected to his 3-dimensional work. His approach is historic. That is, he is influenced by various past cultures, such as the Egyptians and Cycladic Greeks, as well as the art of the Romanesque period. Martinez's sculptural work is also strongly influenced by the 20th century masters; Brancusi, Henry Moore, and Noguchi.

Some of his work has a totemic quality. These works tend to be connected to the figure and are usually in wood. He will often find something within the material and bring it into a tangible form. Martinez's work reflects the tactile reality of organic substances despite the conceptual origins of his art. His more abstract work is generally made in stone. These simple forms, in which the curvilinear quality of line and smooth surfaces comes together, create both a sensual and ascetic experience at the same time. The silence and grandeur of works in stone (marble, granite, limestone, etc.) and the hidden life force of aged wood (redwood, oak, ebony, walnut, etc.) both inspire and influence the direction and creativity of the works created by this artist.

There are similar thematic, conceptual, and formalistic ideas which, although at times subtle. give Martinez's body of work a cohesiveness and unified whole. Juxtaposing various pieces to form a singular statement is something the artist has continually experimented with. The sequential relationships and compiled moments overlap to form a complex level of interpretation and meaning. Transformation and metamorphosis are an integral part of Martinez's work.


Wood is dead, but through sculpture, lives again. Stone seems dead, but is only sleeping.

The process/object relationship in sculpture is not static, but always spiraling and heading towards some distant point of consolidation. This relationship will interface to such a degree that neither one, object or process, will be individually distinguishable in the future.

Some believe imagination brings life to all matter. It reflects our fears and dreams. Others, that all matter is sleeping, waiting for the grand gesture, waiting to awake.

There is a place in the Mojave Desert called Fossil Falls, where Henry Moore forms were shaped in Basalt 400,000 years ago.

Sculpture consists of abstracted symbols of the inexplicable, which exists in all things: tangible forms from invisible thoughts, where stones can float and dead wood walk.

What you see is never what you get.


Between 1986 and 1994 he had exhibits in the Harris Gallery and the Fischer Gallery at USC, the Pro, Inc Gallery in Pasadena,the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and the J.E.T. Gallery in Cambria Pines, CA.

Martinez moved to Saratoga Springs, New York in 1994. This began an entire new group of contacts and associations which led to performing in Greenwich, NY in 1998 at the Festival and Dedication of Commons Park and participating in the Commons Park Sculpture Exhibit along with the sculptor Gyula Varosy.[10] This event was funded by the NY Council for the Arts. There was also a joint musical concert and exhibit entitled Eurythmy Performance, Music, and Art Exhibit in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1995, which was funded by the Saratoga Springs Arts Council. There were further art exhibits and concerts at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vermont, the 1997 Windy Hill Gallery exhibit in Harlemville, New York, and at the Fish Creek Inn and Gallery there was an Installation of a Sculpture Garden.

Upon returning to Los Angeles he was also represented by the Sculpture House and Gardens in Carmel Highlands, CA as well as the Wyndy Morehead Fine Arts Gallery in New Orleans. Martinez was represented at the Sulkin/Secant Gallery[11] at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, CA.


Martinez began teaching the classical guitar in 1973 at Tulane University in the Creative Arts Program for Children. He also taught at the New Orleans Institute of Music between 1980 and 1981. He was an assistant lecturer at USC where he taught a guitar and music appreciation course in 1984 and 1985. In the 1990s he taught as a teacher/mentor at Prescott College in Arizona and in Los Angeles he was a teacher/lecturer for the credentialed teacher-training program at the Waldorf Institute of Southern Ca. Between 1986 and 1994 he guided students towards numerous awards for writing and art as a class teacher for LAUSD. Between 1994 and 1998 he was an adjunct music teacher at Spring Hill Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs, NY. He also was the Orchestra Director at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School in NY. He then spent one year in Boulder, Co teaching music at the Uni-Hill Alternative Elementary School in 1998-1999. Between 1999 and 2015 he has been an Orchestra Teacher for LAUSD. Also, between 1999 and 2015 he has presented over sixty workshops in such diverse areas as printmaking and poetry writing, as well as music, at organized events occurring during the Solstice and Equinox times of the year. These have taken place at The Castle, a hidden away hilltop location in Southern California.


Martinez is a native of New Orleans and has also lived in upstate New York, the Netherlands, and Los Angeles, CA. He is an accomplished multi-media artist and sculptor as well as a musician and composer. His eclectic approach to the arts illustrates how creative expression need not be limited to a specific medium. His strongest influences have been nature and children. He is dedicated to teaching music and the arts to young people and believes that art should be spontaneous, open, and affirm life. With his wife, Kathleen Ford, a drama teacher, and his daughter, Kara Ford-Martinez, a creative writer, he enjoys hiking and nature.


Festival and Dedication of Commons Park Sculpture Exhibit, Greenwich, New York, New York Council of the Arts, 1998. Chamber music with Eurythmy movement funded by a grant from the Saratoga Springs Arts Council, 1995. Educational Partnership Grant for Global Music, L.A. Unified School District- included "Rhythms of Africa" program, 1993. Golden Apple Award, Learning for Life Youth Service Award, in partnership with Occidental College, 1991-1992. Contemporary Art Start, fellowship for two-year studies program for teachers with the Museum of Contemporary Art(MOCA), 1990-1992. Multi-Media Arts/Dance/Music Project, New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, N.E.A. through the Louisiana Division of the Arts, 1985. Ensemble Award, Classical Guitar, University of Southern California, 1983. National Endowment for the Arts Tour Grant, 1980-1981.


Martinez has also written poetry for over 35 years. The following are some publications:

Weird Death, Language and Culture, 2009 winter/spring edition. Weird Death, Children, Churches, and Daddies Magazine, 2009 Jan. edition. Night Sky, Children, Churches, and Daddies Magazine, 2009 Feb. edition. Poems, Ascent Aspirations Magazine, 2008 Nov. edition. Labyrinth (tanka) & Villanelle, The Eclectic Muse, 2008, Vol. 14 (Christmas edition).[12] From Sky to Earth, a cycle of sonnets, Spiritus Press, Los Angeles, 1994. Mystery of the Vihuela, The American Recorder, 1974 Vol. XV, Feb.



I've worked as a student of nature, an artist, sculptor, musician, educator, and poet. Finding the inner unity that connects and links all of these has been and still is my task.

2016 - at Joshua Tree National Park

                (in the Wonderland of Rocks)