Art gallery in Troy gives platform to Hispanic artists

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This Hispanic Heritage Month, NewsChannel 13 is highlighting an art gallery in Troy that is getting eyes on art historically shut out from the mainstream.

Martinez Gallery opened in the early 2000s as a haven for Hispanic artists, and it’s remained one ever since.

Art of many different media fills the 5th Avenue townhouse. Owner and Director Laudelina Martinez knows every artist and every story the pieces inside tell.

“One of the things I had been seeing is there are not that many Latino artists being shown. So that was one of the goals I had. I wanted to be able to show everybody,” Martinez said.

The art is reflective of the African, European, Caribbean and Indigenous blend of cultures that make up Hispanic identity.

“You have a lot of differences of skin color, you have a lot of differences of skin color, facial features and so on in our islands,” she said, explaining how those differences manifest in the artwork.

A blended identity is something Martinez carries from her own childhood in Puerto Rico.  

“We have this odd relationship with the U.S. We are a U.S. possession, we’re U.S. citizens, many of us are bilingual, I went to an American school. I feel really comfortable moving back and forth between English and Spanish, what linguists call ‘code switching,’” she said.

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While Hispanic, female and other traditionally marginalized artists have made progress in getting their work recognized, Martinez said there are still challenges.

“Well, you know, it’s access,” she said. “It really is access and equity. It’s very difficult to get a gallery to represent you.”

Martinez is doing just that, as one of just a handful of dedicated commercial art galleries in the Troy area.

“There is a great deal of talent. There’s a great—there’s a lot of training. There’s a lot of knowledge. The thing is for them to get an opportunity to be accepted,” she said.

The gallery taps into the talent at Capital Region colleges and universities in addition to international artists.

As it continues in its third decade, Martinez hopes one day to be able to expand and show art in a church space attached to the townhouse.