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Art Wed Oct 02 2013
It's a 10 o'clock on a Tuesday, and the regular crowd shuffles in. Among the regulars is Ennis Martin, a local artist whose futuristic paintings are a favorite in the neighborhood. Martin has taken to painting at The Crocodile Lounge on Tuesday nights, turning the front window into a working studio.
Martin, who was born and raised in Chicago, became interested in art at a very young age. As a child he loved comic books and cites this interest as his first foray into art. His imagery draws heavily on the comic book tradition, with each piece being a "panel" that advances his plot line one step further.
Using science fiction as a springboard, Martin has created an elaborate storyline for his paintings, a series titled The Chronicles. He explains, "The Chronicles story line described in my artwork begins in a post-apocalyptic Earth, in which aliens come to re-create our world, though they have little to refer to determine what it once was. The only record they have is torn and tattered pieces of Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species. The aliens commence experimenting with concepts of how they perceive life should be. Beginning with aquatic life, they fashion jellyfish, squid and whales. The latter they have termed "Darwins," in reference to their Origin of Species manual. These original creations are metamorphic beings that can walk on land, as well as swim the waters."
With his easel settled in the front corner of the bar, Martin is working on a piece he calls "Playful Darwin." This acrylic-on-wood piece portrays a whale, a common subject in Martin's series. However, instead of being purely aquatic, the whale his been given four leviathan feet, similar to that of an elephant.
The whale's monstrous bulk and unexpected appendages draw viewers in, but it is Martin's attention to detail that truly astounds. Amidst the earthy palette of muddy browns and sickly blues, Martin depicts the whale's eye; an absolutely perfect representation of an ancient creature that has lived through the destruction of human-kind and seen the world into its final days.
Ennis Martin has been a part of the Chicago art scene for over 20 years, first dabbling in graffiti and then attending the International Academy of Art in Chicago. Despite his years of experience and virtuosity with a paintbrush, Martin is incredibly humble about his work. He constantly is challenging himself, pushing his palette and the premise of his paintings further.
Ennis Martin can be seen painting most Tuesday evenings at The Crocodile Lounge, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave., at 10pm.