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 Martin Rollins  (1956 - )

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Lived/Active: Kentucky      Known for: cityscapes, architecture, regional scene painting, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from the webiste of the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

"Painting Alum Has Brush with Regional Acclaim"

Martin Rollins, '87 grad from UC's School of Art, is building a following in Louisville with work that captures the evocative emotions of traditional neighborhoods and century-old architecture.

Since graduating with his 1987 Master of Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati's internationally ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), painter Martin Rollins, 52, has amassed an impressive career portfolio as a museum arts administrator and educator.

And also as a well-regarded painter and chronicler of his native Louisville, Rollins does paintings of shotgun houses and camelback homes as well as streets and intersections long "lived in" by the city's residents have proven to be inspiring, winning regard from both art critics and community members.

And as much as Rollins gives back to his community via his art, he also receives from that same community. He admits that he is inspired in a special way by the historic, variegated fabric of old-line neighborhoods.

He explains, "I've had the opportunity for work in other cities. So far, I've always chosen not to go because before I'm anything else, I'm an artist. What held me back was the raw newness of so many 'newer' American cities. The patina of older cities and neighborhoods, like those in Louisville or in Cincinnati, have a special appeal for me."

That much is obvious from Rollins' work...and from his work history. After earning his undergraduate degree in Louisville, Rollins first went to graduate school in New York City. Although he loved living in the city, the MFA program there "just wasn't a fit for me. Although there were many prestigious artists on the faculty of the school, I learned that very good artists don't always make very good teachers."

Rollins, instead, returned to Kentucky to head up art-education programs and to continue his own painting career before pursuing an MFA at UC starting in 1985. He recalls, "While I was making my final decision on whether to attend UC or not, I was also offered a teaching assistantship as well.  So, I was able to live and work in a city with beautiful architecture and wonderful, old neighborhoods as well as teach some great students."

Rollins recollects that the DAAP undergraduates he taught from 1985-1988 were some of the most talented and challenging students he's ever come across. He states, "I remember teaching life drawing to design, architecture and planning juniors and seniors. They were all self starters with a high caliber of discipline, creativity and motivation. They'd all been on co-op working quarters to other cities and had a level of sophistication unusual for many undergraduates. I learned quite a lot from them."

Rollins might have stayed in Cincinnati, but "cheap studio space" in Louisville along with a subsequent position as the Associate Education Curator at the J.B. Speed Art Museum drew him back to his home city.

Rollins recently left the museum to begin teaching at Shelby Elementary School, and - of course - pursue his painting. He regularly shows work at the B. Deemer Gallery - work that's merited positive attention from local critics and media, including the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"I'm always wanting to paint more and to expand my exhibitions to a wider geographic region. But I also love teaching. I always say that is clears out my internal rust to teach," adds Rollins.
For right now, he'll continue balancing his twin passions for teaching and for painting - passions that he feels are very much alike in their underlying essence. "Whether you're teaching or you're painting, you have to get very real very fast, or your audience - whether in a classroom or a gallery - will put you on notice. That draws me in and inspires me just as much as the moods and scenes of my native city."


Biography from B. Deemer Gallery:
Martin Rollins’ oil pastel pieces are re-examinations of familiar places in and around Louisville. From specific landmarks in the various neighborhoods of the city, to the rural surrounding areas, Rollins gives us a second look at what we ordinarily pass by in our daily routine. With an absence of figurative depiction in his work, he breathes new life into the old buildings and scenes that are unceremoniously given little notice to as we travel from “point a” to “point b”.

Martin Rollins has cultivated a major following in Louisville, the rewards of doing exhibits in and of the city for over twenty years. His academic studies include working under Robert Knipschild at the University of Cincinnati, as well as studying with Mary Ann Currier at the Louisville School of Art.

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