Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Potter Stewart once famously defined pornography thusly: “I know it when I see it.” The same could probably be said for art itself, though, as it too can be tricky to define. But apparently, there’s at least one artist who’s out to prove that sometimes you might be looking right at a work of art and not even know it.
Los Angeles-based artist Patrick Martinez specializes in neon signage. While this medium may not sound as traditionally artistic as, say, portraiture, Martinez’s work literally fuses themes of individuality, conformity, and commerce into a familiar shape. Now, the artist is displaying his latest work in the most familiar of settings: a California grocery store.
Those who buy their Wonder bread, etc., from El Tapatio Market in Bell Gardens, may have walked right past some of Martinez’s work without realizing it. (Of course if you search #ThugsNeedHugsDaily on Instagram, you’ll notice that plenty of people didn’t simply walk by.) Martinez is not the first artist to hide his work in a grocery store, but the laissez-faire attitude with which he’s left these pieces at El Tapatio seems wholly original. It may seem strange to display such pieces where they might go unnoticed, but perhaps Martinez’s contrasting of gangsta-speak with the visual language of storefronts is right at home in between aisles of brands.
Have a look through some of his work in the slides above.