The Art of Fred Martin
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A selection of paintings, 1957-58.
Harrison Street, paintings of the dying city.
All paintings are oil on panel, varying sizes from the smallest--about 3 x 8 in. to the largest around 12 x 16 in. 
The drawings are 9 x 12 in.
Click here for an extended text about these paintings.
Click here for a selection of drawings from this period.

Images marked
** are described in the catalog for my 2003 Retrospective at the Oakland Museum of California.  
Click the
** to go to the description.

Scroll down for the paintings, click thumbnails for larger views.


It all began with some sad little drawings of some run-down parts of Oakland, old houses and a bar near the docks.  It was when I was getting my teaching credential in the early 1950's and could not figure out how to live my life as an artist--much less as a public school teacher.  There was a bar somewhere in a largely abandoned warehouse area near the docks at the lower end of Oakland's Market Street.  The bar was "Tom's Old Corner," and I don't think anyone had been there for a long time. 

My middle name is Thomas... and in its wan dereliction, the bar was me.  I did not draw Tom's Old Corner, but instead made Drawing A (below) of the view down the street past the bar to the cranes and docks beyond. Even now, I tend to look to the horizon instead of the facts before me.  Always trying to escape. 

There is an inscription--Drawing B--in the same sketch book as the drawing of the cranes instead of Tom's Old Corner: "You know how it is--you go along quietly enough for a while, and then there is a little grinding crash, kind of twisting and wrenching."  I knew--it was Existentialism and Abstract Expressionism and Zen talking--that there had to be a place where at last the break would come and the world would begin anew. 

Drawing C is a few pages later in the sketch book.  Maybe the grinding crash came and made this drawing. There are no others like it in the book or from that time.

In the years of these early drawings of the city, I was painting my Homage to Kandinsky and using the "spiritual red" of  Marc's "Mountain Landscape".  Forty years later, I made  A Memory of a Youth's Ambition (1994) in honor of those old days. 

Click here for an extended text about these paintings and drawings.


The cover sheet for the early drawings as I found it in my storage.  Even back then, I was not sure when then was... perhaps because then is always.



Drawing A.

Drawing B.

Drawing C.
  Click here for more drawings of the dying city


Paintings of the dying city



For wan houses frozen in an infinity of dying amid wan skies"


"And so all things stream
to their appointed end,
singing and crying
with desire for death"


(Private collection, San Francisco)
Click here to go to the original drawing






Click here to go to the original drawing


(Private collection, Montreal)


** #12.
(Collection Oakland Museum of California.)



(Private collection, Upper Arlington, Ohio)


(Private collection, Montreal)




Click here for an extended text about these paintings.

Click here for a selection of drawings from this period.