My Unified Theory of My Usage of Multimedias as an Artist
I am a multi-disciplinarian artist. Meaning I choose to use various mediums instead of just one to create my art. For example, I can not encompass whatever I need to express as an artist solely through one medium like being only a painter or only a jeweler or only a sculptor or only a … To best define the effects of all the variables and nano moments of inputs that confront every day I have found that I need more than just one medium in order to express my reactions to that onslaught of information.
My intent within each and every act of creating art is to free myself of the known controls I have gleaned from previous uses of the various mediums. Thereby I am allowing the mediums to best reflect the portions of the artistic efforts for which they are best suited to do so. This process is almost a trance-like meditation for me; a meandering dance between myself and the materials making spontaneous discoveries a constant.
I compare this process of my artistic expression to a type of meditative state in which my everyday experiences are distilled and transformed into my language of visual expressions. Therein the painting process, the assembling process, the weaving of the chains, or the combined processes become a subconscious incantation capable of revealing a translation of the influences as they are seemingly, simultaneously, emanating from the actual causal events.
For example, a view from a window allows one point of view of an exterior panorama within a very strict structure. This is not dissimilar from a framed painting and how the frame controls the image.
But once one steps outside and into the natural surroundings there is an immersion of influences and points of view that carry more information than the controlled picture within the frame.
In order to reconcile all these effects I incorporate my use of multiple mediums to express the different range of emotions and reactions to all the bombarding influences.
By removing the confining frame my paintings utilize the space of the walls or the edges of the rooms as their frames of limitations. Their fragmented edges seek out to expand beyond the edges of the artworks, beyond any of the static controls of the stretchers and frames suggesting that these artworks are just fragments of a larger whole. In doing so they embrace the idea that the painting and its concepts flow easily beyond the painted surfaces.
In the cases where I choose to use a rectangular format, I want that control. In these situations, I seek intimacy in the piece that may require the safety of the controlling edges.
As my artwork stretched beyond the frame it organically grew into these spacial installation pieces. It was a point where the viewer became immersed within the work of art, a participant within the art itself as opposed to a viewer standing at a distance and looking at a piece on a wall or a pedestal. As the installation pieces kept growing they engulfed the studio and became a full-on living, functioning, environmental assemblages, and painted installations.
In order to relate to this domain of installational architecture as a living realm I needed to speak of inhabitants. More than just depicting the creatures or inhabitants I wanted them to be connected to these environments. In the beginning, I painted and jeweled and feathered and furred clothing to create a type of female creature that in effect grew from these environments. Through the process, these body works evolved into a more celebratory jeweled type of accessory as opposed to a body covering. As I worked through these ideas they organically shedded their skins and tightened up and tightened up and eventually evolved into fine jewelry encompassing the use of golds, gemstones, and pearls.
The mesh of the jewelry and the painting and the objects and the sculptures and installation pieces reveal links between these many mediums i.e. the densities and the textures and the motions and the free associations with the elements of the familiar rethought and perhaps greatly changed in pursuit of a new perception. A grand overview of life in which the visuals of the physical are presented to us in a manner not dissimilar to the allusions of the magician in so much as the “reality” presented may not be the actuality necessary to be perceived.
I make every single piece one at a time by myself. I don’t design something on paper and hand it off to assistants to make. Actually, I don’t design anything. I just start with the materials, some chains maybe a pearl and start linking the chains together one at a time. Maybe I start surrounding the pearl or gemstone with the chains… Maybe netting Tahitian Pearls or South Sea Pearls, naturally colored by nature itself, or other Gemstones, precious and semi-precious, Diamonds, Emeralds, Opals, Tourmaline Tanzanite… and many many other types of gems and catch them up within the web of chains much like a spider snares it’s prey in it’s web.
Because of my process, the spontaneity of the creation comes through in the finished piece. The individuality of them is very apparent. Before I start sometimes I have a vague idea in my mind as to what I want to make but as I get working on them they surprise me as the road of creation winds and turns with my instant responses to each and every action in forming the pieces. I want each and every single piece to be able to stand alone as a truly one-of-a-kind work of art. It’s as though they come out of somewhere within me before I can think about what it is I want to do. It’s a kind of stream of consciousness that takes over me and I just need to let my fingers do whatever they seem to be doing. I believe that these feelings come from somewhere deep within the soul even before a thought about it can be formulated about what it is I am doing. I trust my actions and at times feel as though these items are working themselves as they would like and are just using me and my hands as vehicles to accomplish what is needed.
At the same time, each piece has to be easy and comfortable to wear. There are no two ever exactly alike. Even the earrings are matched but not clones of each other. Both sides of our bodies, our faces are different and in the case of the earrings one worn on the right side and then switched to the left side will be different, maybe subtly in some cases maybe more obviously different in others. Most of the necklaces if put on one way and then reversed will have a similarly different look and feel from each side. A woman might put an outfit on one day and love it but another day might not think it looks good at all. I embrace that variation. It is life.
Every piece I make is a mixture of the finest and most delicate 14K Rose, Yellow, and White Gold chains available. My use of all the gold colors woven together allows me to create a patina that subtles the look evoking the old and the new together bouncing the eye and perception instead of just a bright singularly yellow gold chain. In many of the pieces, I add a few Sterling Silver chains to add contrast. I do this to enhance the whites of the high bright white gold with the raw white gold I use. This gives the pieces three variations of the white colors in conjunction with the rose and the yellow gold. Also as the pieces age the silver with tarnish and darken in the inner parts of the links which will bring a depth to the piece much like underpainting adds depth to a painting.
The natural world around us is a major influence for me. I combine this with the effects and influences upon us and the echoing this has as a way to further show our inner nature, light, outwardly. The things we wear can be a tell as to who we truly are and who we want to present. The jewelry we wear can be an outer signal of that inner light, that hidden treasure that exists within us all. One analogy relating to this when I am working is that moment after a sunken treasure has been found at the bottom of the sea and the treasure is being raised to the surface. It is the very moment the treasure breaks the water that I am trying to capture. The water is streaming back into the ocean. The sun is glinting off the jewels and shimmering as the wind catches water droplets and wisps them into the air.
As we allow our true inner beauty to be outwardly presented it becomes a statement as to who we are through through. This unique beauty wells up from deep within our soul and helps declare our individuality. In many cases, we don’t have enough things that can actually reflect this enough. But I believe my work is one of these tools that can be a mirror of this true inner nature.
Simultaneously I am trying to capture the movements of the body and hair as we move through life.
To this end, I use a lot of fringy dangling chains to evoke this effect. Which I believe also adds a feel to the pieces. They feel exceptionally soft and comfortable against the skin.
For the most part, if something is worn it should feel good to wear. I see all that jewelry out there and almost to the piece, they are just geometric objects that lay on the skin much like a painting on a wall or an object on a pedestal. The body is different. We move through the world. We are not a stationary object. We like the feeling of touch. One chooses clothing that feels good against our skin, silks, cashmeres, etc.
In my jewelry, I use these most delicate chains to deliver that gently tickling brush against the skin. They are not just a piece of shiny metal stuck to the body. They move as one moves. They dance as one moves. The feel of jewelry should be one of the most integral parts of jewelry and not just the look of it.
M a r t i n L . B e r n s t e i n
B O R N
April 2, 1949 Cincinnati, OH
R E S I D E N C E S
1980 – 1994 Los Angeles, CA
1994 – 2001 Miami, Fl
2001 – 2004 Touring USA 2004
2004-2021 Chicago, Il
2023- Belen, NM
E D U C AT I O N
1971, BFA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
1968 University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
M a r t i n L . B e r n s t e i n
S E L E C T E D S O L O G A L L E R Y E X H I B I T I O N S
Koelsch Gallery, Houston, Texas 11/11/2023
Centerline 2019, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, IL
“Martin L.Bernstein New painting”, Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, IL 2005/2006
A Personal Odyssee: Paintings, Jewelry and Mixed Media Installation by Martin Bernstein, Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, OH 2005
“About Face”, ZBCenter for the Arts,
Martin L. Bernstein, Chicago, IL 2005 “Living”, ZBCenter for the Arts,
Martin L. Bernstein, Chicago, IL 2004 “Preview, Three facets of…”,
Martin L. Bernstein, ZBCenter for the Arts, Chicago, IL 2003 “Treasure Trove”, Objects, Jewelry by Martin Bernstein Oskar Friedl Gallery, Chicago, IL 2002
“PaperWork: An exhibition of Paper” Oskar Freidl Gallery, Chicago, IL 2002
“Surface to Earth” Andrew-Shire Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1999 “Kowargzie”, Stone by Stone Gallery, Dallas, TX 1997
“Victory:s Homage at the Battlement of Her Soul”, 8th Floor Gallery, NY, NY 1996
“Martin L. Bernstein on Canvas”, State – Thomas Gallery, Dallas, TX1996 “All That Glitter’s,The World of Martin Bernstein”, BP Gallery, Houston, TX 1996
“Lair”, Sally Sprout Gallery, Houston, TX 1995 “Jeweled Objects, Martin L. Bernstein”,
Main Street Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY 1994 “Martin Bernstein”, OCHI Gallery, Ketchum, ID
1990 “Marteanus”, Environmental Installation, Diverseworks, Houston, TX 1988
“Environmental Installations”, EM House, Los Angeles, CA 1987 “Under the Sun”, Otis-Parsons Gallery, Site- Installation, Los Angeles, CA 1987 “11-11,
Torrents,”Stock Exchange, Performance-Installation”, Los Angeles, CA 1986 1987
“Martin Bernstein” LACMA, Sales and Rental Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1984
“Carmelita’s Jewels”, Nightscene, Beverly Hills, CA, Performance 1983
“Altered Image”, Newport Art Museum Rental Gallery, Newport Beach, CA 1982
“Martin Bernstein: Paintings” Newport Art Museum Rental Gallery, Newport Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA 1980
“Essence and Art”, Contemporary Media Study Center, Dayton, OH 1980 “Martin Bernstein: Painting”, Art Consortium, Cincinnati, OH 1980 “Painting, Carnegie Art Center” , Covington, KY 1979
“Painted Polaroids”, Kata Gallery, New York, NY 1978 “Invitational Drawing Show”, C.A.G.E., Cincinnati, OH 1978
“Painting, Martin Bernstein Inaugural Exhibition”, C.A.G.E., Cincinnati, OH
M a r t i n L . B e r n s t e i n
S E L E C TED G R O U P E X H I B I T I O N S : 2015
“Enchantment, Nature Re-Imagined”,Beverly Arts Alliance, Chicago, IL 2011
U-M Alumni Show, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL 2011 Centerline 2011,
Zhou B Art Center Gallery, Chicago, IL 2011 Progression, Zhou B Art Center Gallery, Chicago, IL
2011 World Gold Council Best Designer’s 2010, JCK, Las Vegas, NV
2010 World Gold Council Best Designer’s 2010, JCK, Las Vegas, NV 2010
“Interstices: The Inner Space” University of Michigan,Alumni Show, Ann Arbor, MI 2010
“Influences”, Betty Dare Gallery, Chicago, IL 2010 UMCGC Art Show, Zolla Lieberman, Chicago, IL 2010
“Centerline 2010” ZhouB Art Center Gallery, Chicago, Il 2009 “Visionaries” 2009 Auction, MAD, Museum of Design, New York, NY 2009
“Center Line 2009” ZhouB Art Center, Chicago, IL 2008
“The Space Between”, University Of Michigan, Alumni Show, Ann Arbor, MI
2002 “Small is Beautiful”, K Gallery, Washington DC 2002
“PaperWork: An exhibition of Paper” Oskar Freidl Gallery, Chicago, IL 1996
“Treasure Boxes”, Artables, Houston TX 1995 “Seductive Surfaces”, Sally Sprout Gallery, Houston, TX 1995
“Group”, State -Thomas Gallery, Dallas, TX
1994 DIFFA Collection, National Tours, Los Angeles, CA 1994 “Born Again Objects”, Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, TX 1993
“In The Raw”, Santa Monica, CA 1992 “Group Paint”, Andrew-Shire Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1988
“Group”,Gallery of Functional Art, Los Angeles, CA 1987
“Group”,Virginia Miller Gallery, Miami, Fl 1986 “California Assemblage, Past and Present”, Forum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, CA 1986
“California Assemblage, Past and Present”, Santa Cruz, Museum of Art, Santa Cruz, CA 1985
“Dimensions”, LACMA, Los Angeles, CA 1985 “The Torso”, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles,CA 1984
“HOT”, Simard – Halm Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1984
“Art and the Familiar Object”, Security Pacific Bank Plaza Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1984
“Functional Art”, Functional Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1984
“County Sculpture; Source and Process”, Guggenheim Gallery, Orange, CA 1984
“Postmodern Mannerisms”, Ettinger Galleries, Laguna Beach, CA 1984
“Drawing a Personal View”, Mills House Gallery, Garden Grove, CA 1984
“Drawing a Personal View”, Mills House Gallery, Garden Grove, CA 1984
“Contemporary Uses of the Photographic Medium”, Amarillo Art Center, Amarillo, TX 1983
“Painted Polaroids”, Orlando Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1983
“Boxed Art”, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA 1983
“29th Annual”, San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, CA 1983
“Forum I”, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA 1982
“Poetic Objects”, WPA Gallery, Washington D.C., Walter Hopps, Curator 1982
“The Human Presence”, Toni Birkhead Gallery, Cincinnati, OH 1981 “Cincinnati Invitational Exhibition 1981”
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH 1980
“About Faces”, Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center, Portsmith, OH 1980
“SX-70”, Contemporary Media Center, Dayton, OH 1979
“Strategies Exhibition, Art of the Eighties”, Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH 1978
“Invitational Drawing Show”, C.A.G.E., Cincinnati, OH 1975
“1975 Mid-Year Show”, Butler Institute, Youngstown, OH 1975
“1975 Invitational Exhibition”, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
M a r t i n L . B e r n s t e i n
S E L E C T E D C O L L E C T I O N S :
Michael and Carol Prussian, Chicago, Eleanor Miller and Tom Weinberg, Chicago, Il, Nancy Kienholz, Houston, TX, Steven Tyler, USA, H.M. Queen Rania, Jordon, Marilyn Oshman, Houston, Karen Desenberg, Houston, TX,
Christy and Louis Cushman, Houston, TX, John Howenstine, Houston, TX, Cynthia Patterson, Los Angeles, CA, The Island Hotel, Newport Beach, CA, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Tierney, Newport, CA, Sharon Simpson, Oakland, CA, Jean Simpson, Oakland, CA, The Palms Casino Resort, Sky Villa, Las Vegas, NV,
Peninsula Hotel and Spa, Beverly Hills, CA, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV, Bonyce Knowles, Beverly Hills, CA,
Alfred A.Checchi, Los Angeles, CA, International Doubletree Hotels Sheraton Hotels,
HRH Mohammed Bin Naif, NinAbdulaziz AL SA, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Jane Seymour, Beverly Hills, CA,
Atlantis Resort Paradise Island, Bahamas Grand Tiara Hotel, Kyoto, Japan, Belinda Carlyle, Beverly Hills, CA,
World Trade Bank, Los Angeles, CA Soedarjo, Jakarta, Indonesia, Cher, Beverly Hills, CA,
Rikki Klieman and Chief William Bratton, Los Angeles, CA, Walter Hopps, Houston, TX,
Caroline Huber, Pasadena, CA, Barbara Hershey, Beverly Hills, Sheryle Ulyate, Irving, CA,
The Bel Air Hotel, Bel Air, CA, Hyatt Hotels, CA, Cadillac-Fairview, Los Angeles, CA, Edward & Jan Turin, Tenafly, NJ, Tressa Miller, Los Angeles, CA, La Opinion, Los Angeles, CA, Quail Lodge, Carmel, CA, Hong Kong, China Barrett Collection, Dallas, TX, Internal Revenue Service, Cincinnati, OH, Mr. & Mrs. Boyd Jefferies, Laguna Beach, CA, Carol Ballard, Houston, TX, Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co., Cincinnati, OH,
O R G A N I Z A T I O N S :
Cincinnati Artists Group Effort (C.A.G.E.) Founder, Board of Directors, Cincinnati, OH, 1978
L E C T U R E S / T A L K S :
2005/2006 Gallery Talk: A Personal Odysee: Paintings, Jewelry and Mixed Media Installation by Martin Bernstein, Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, OH 1994
Born Again Objects, Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington, TX 1983
The Altered Image, Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA 1983
Project Series, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA
A W A R D S & P E R F O R M A N C E :
World Gold Council’s WGC Best Designer’s of 2012 Victoria Secrets Fashion Show, “Aquatic Life”, 2011
World Gold Council’s WGC Best Designer’s of 2011
World Gold Council’s WGC Best Designer’s of 2010
R E F E R E N C E S :
Style and Fashion, December
2014 JCK Magazine, June Issue 2014, The Look, pg.94 JCK Magazine, September Issue, The Golden Rush, pg. 109, 2013
Christina Aguilera, Headdress, The Voice, Semi-Final Episode, May 2, 2012
ForbesLife Magazine, The Eye, “Babbles, Martin Bernstein” pg.40, July 2010
Conde’ Nast Traveler, Word of Mouth, The Detox Trip, “The Bauble”, pg.30 August 2010
Cosmo Magazine, Cover and interview with Heidi Klum, It’s in the Juice, May 2010, cover, & Pgs. 36,37, 278
Watch and Jewelry Review, Spot light on new designers, Mixed Media, Jeff Prine, January 2010, Pg. 20, 21.
The Chicago Outlook, Third Fridays: Does the gallery crawl pay off for Bridgeport’s art community?,
Rachel Wiseman April 21, 2010
Town and Country Magazine, “Sleek and Chic”‘ March 2007, pg. 190-194
Bradley, Barbara “Comec, Fashion Show” Commercial Appeal, M12, August 27, 2006
US Magazine, Hot Pics! Jane Seymour, pg.32, Issue 595,July 10, 2006
Jane Durell, “Many Works, One Piece Martin Bernstein’s deeply personal show at the Weston Gallery is not for minimalists,” CityBeat Magazine, pg.41, feb 22 -28, 2006
Jud Yalkut, Yvonne van Eijden and Martin Bernstein in Cincinnati, “Visuals: Ethereal Text and Jewelled Realities”, Dayton City Paper,March 1, 2006
Vogue Magazine, “Finding Shangri-la”, Tonni Goodman, Photo by Steven Miesel, May pg.189, 2005
Bradley, Barbara”Razzle Dazzle” Commercial Appeal, Style M8, May 29, 2005
Bradley, Barbara”Fall Fashion” Commercial Appeal, M6, September 25, 2005
Zink Magazine, “Birds of Prey”, Photos: Heidi Niemala, April, 2003
Surface Magazine Photos: Stephen Lee, Issue 38, pgs 172-175 2003
Rolling Stone Magazine, Cover: Photo: Albert Watson, October 31, 2002 Jane Magazine, Photos: Kelly Klein, March 2002, pgs 114,
115 Bess Liebenson, Slip into Something More Artistic, New York Times, CT, Nov 19, pg 26 2000
Wearable Art, Greenwich Magazine, December 2000 The Arts, Greenwich Time, November19, pg 5B 2000,
Art in America Guide 2000, August 2000, pg. 229
Hotel Venus Magazine, Photo set Installation, Issue 2, pgs 18, 19, 20, 21 2001
Alschuler, Al, “Living and Working Here”, Miami Herald, Art & Design, H. D. pg. 7, 1995
Lewis, M. “Born From Neptune’s Garden”, Wire 1995, Miami Beach,
Broadwater, Lisa,”Trash With A Higher Calling” , Dallas Morning News, Section C, pg.1,2,4 May19,1994
McCormick, David,” Artist As Recycler”, Texas Monthly, pg.22 , May 19, 1994,
Tyson, Janet, “Discovering The Potential Of Found Objects”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Section F, pg.1,4 May 29, 1994
Tharp, Robert,” Everything Old Is New Again Arlington Museum Show”, Fort Worth Star- Telegram, Weekend Guide, May 19,1994
Garrison, Renee, Tampa Tribute, pg.1, March 24,1994
Monson, Carolyn, ”Artist Turns Pieces Of Life Into Treasure Trove Of Jewelry”, Salt Lake Tribune, pg. F12, November 22,1992
Oland, Gloria,” Fashion-Art”, L.A. Weekly, June, pg.36, 1987
Cover, Centerfold, Penthouse Magazine, November,1986
McKenna, Kristine,”The Galleries”, The Los Angeles Times,April 26,1985
McPhee, Sondra, “Departures From Function”, Artweek, pg.5 ,December 1,1984,
Epstein, Benjamin, “Artists Creation To Benefit Museum”,Los Angeles Times, October 15,1984
Bellon, Linda,” A Step Further”, Artweek”, pg.13, September 22,1984,
Moore, Scott,” Just Throwing Paint Around : Portrait of an Artist”,This Week In Laguna, pg. 7,8, March 28,1984
Sarri, Laura,” A Box By Any Other Name Could Be Well,er, Art”, The Orange County Register, pg. D,11, November 17,1983,
Lugo, Mark- Elliot,” A Taste Of Cities Artistry”, Cincinnati Post, pg.10, July 10,1981,
Foreman, B.J.” C.A.G.E. Unlocks Cincinnati Inhibitions”, Cincinnati Post, August 6,1981
Findsen, Owen,” Parallels Abound”, Cincinnati Enquirer, April 27,1980, pg. F7, 2014