Martin Moreno was born in Adrian, Michigan. He was educated at the Detroit Institute of Art, and received his BFA from Siena Heights University. He has lived, worked and created in Detroit, New York, East Los Angeles, El Paso, Chicago, Tucson and Phoenix. Together with his wife, Sylvia Hernandez-Moreno, he runs Cuervo Studio and Gallery at 1501 E. Thomas in Phoenix. Moreno is also artistic director of Las Artes, a program that assists young men and women in obtaining their GEDs and trains them in art. He is considered and considers himself a Chicano artist who has helped the art movement evolve since its beginnings in the 1960s.
Every artist is drawn to art for different reasons. What reasons drew you?
Very early in life I was exposed to the works of Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Art. Growing up poor, working as a migrant worker, losing my parents at a young age, seeing injustices everywhere I turned against people simply because of their economic status or color of their skin made me want to express the passion/rage that I felt. Luckily for me I always remembered my mother’s encouragement to CREATE. I don’t know if she meant art necessarily but I am happy with my decision.
Describe the movement or group of artists you consider yourself a member of.
I have always thought artists who have the similar philosophy of commitment to community, artists which are not afraid to point fingers and deal with inequities within our society. These artists exist throughout the country from Michigan to Arizona. Geographical boundaries do not exist within these communities.
Is the movement evolving or changing?
I believe any movement must go through evolution. Yet the base must remain the same: Education, celebration of cultura, and promotion of understanding. Artists have always been a part of any social or political movement; that holds true regardless of one’s ethnic background.
What in your work makes you unique among artists?
I am a sculptor, printer, muralist, painter and educator. My priorities have always been to promote young artists and cultural diversity. As an artist I have tasted rejection and have also been embraced. It has been either feast or famine. Endurance and a deep belief that what I do has value and has allowed me to survive as an artist for over 35 years.
Tell us about Cuervo Studio and Gallery.
Cuervo Studio and Gallery (Latino Art Project) was established to provide alternate space for artists of color. Along with my wife Sylvia, who serves as my agent and gallery manager, our partners in the project are Sal and Maria Rivera, Dr. Andrew and Bettina Nava, and Max Fose. They represent our diverse community; our common denominator is a belief in the power and potential of art. We also are part of the First Friday Gallery Art Walk and are looking forward to showing a diverse group of artists. We have recently begun a “Mural Slam” each First Friday with both veteran artists and young artists working side by side. We will begin working on it again in September. We hope your readers will join us on September 5th from 6 – 10 p. m. at 1501 E. Thomas Road in Phoenix.