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Martin Kreloff: 50 Year Journey Of An Artist

Marty Kreloff

Marty Kreloff describes what he does as “Pop Art-influenced” paintings, drawings, and new media works.

Last week, we paid him a visit as, all around us, his art was being hung at the Sahara West Library.

This new gallery show is a 50 year retrospective of the work Kreloff has created in New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, where he now lives. 

Each painting becomes, he says, “a little love affair."

Each conveys not only a little something about the life of the person he’s painting – but also about his own.


On painting actor Matt Gubler:

I knew Matthew from parties, but when he came over to my studio to be photographed for the portrait, I wanted to get to know him better. I know he's an artist. I put out paper and crayons for both of us. I sat down at the table with Matt and I said 'I'm going to start. You pick up where I leave off the drawing.' In 20 minutes, we were best friends.

The colors are what play in my paintings. I've been quoted as saying "color is my life!" It kind of is, because I'm a hard-edge painter which means there is no blending. Everything is shape next to shape. Then I get to use color. I don't stick to the rules. I use color as I see it should be used. 

On painting Leonardo DiCaprio:

Each one I try to capture something else. Each painting is a challenge, beyond just saying I'm going to do a painting. I give myself little challenges in each one that you may not know about even when it's finished. But I as an artist, I know that I did this.

DiCaprio is an interesting painting. I stopped work on it because I was doing a show in Miami in 2013 and came back and two months later I picked up work on the painting. All my paints were dry. I had to remix everything. 

This was not an easy painting to do. Because I wanted to show him as a child whose grown into an adolescent and there is somewhat of an ominous feeling about this. 

What is the story you're trying to convey in this exhibit?

The story is a young boy from Brooklyn who started to draw when he was 5 years old. I sat in the floor of my apartment - my folks apartment they let me live there - and I did this drawing. I still have it. It's crumpled but my mother saved every thing.  

What was it a picture of?

It was a woman standing in a black dress with gloves on and two ribbons in her hair. 

Why did you choose some of the people in your paintings?

I was really lucky because that moment I entered Parsons [School of Design] Andy Warhol had his first shows. [Robert] Rauschenberg had his first shows. [Roy] Lichtenstein just blew my mind. Here I am a student looking, trying to understand who I am, how I can tell whatever I feel and master my technique and give it an intellectual challenge. This opened a door for me. 

On painting actress and Olympic swimmer Esther Williams:

I got a chance to spend a week with Esther Williams, which was pretty impressive. As a kid, I had gone to see everyone of her movies. She met me in the lobby of one of the hotels and looked at this and asked 'Did you use a computer to do this?' I said, 'No, I didn't I actually rented your movies and did freeze frame on the screen and took pictures so that I could work from them because I didn't want anything that was recorded before.' And she hugged me and said it was the best underwater picture of her ever. I really blushed and we became good pals. 

On the painting of actress Patty McCormack as "Rhoda Penmark" from the movie "The Bad Seed."

One of the first evil children to be in the movies. This was a play on Broadway in the 50s. Then the cast, including Patty McCormack, did the film. 

It is an ominous picture. The colors are much more threatening if you will. There's blues. There's grays, but they're not the happy jolly things, except for her hair which is bright and yellow and how could she be anything but an innocent child? She couldn't be a killer. 

Martin Kreloff, Artist 

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.