LOS ANGELES, CA – Saturday night, August 20th, artists Randy Martinez and Denise Vasquez showcased their latest Star Wars artwork at the Hold Up Art gallery, in an event titled “Art From a Galaxy Far Far Away.” It was an intimate atmosphere featuring a continuous stream of patrons, chill beats, and even members of the infamous 501st Legion, who showed up to give their support to these two kinetic people. Both Denise and Randy are no strangers to the Star Wars Universe, having worked on numerous projects for Lucas Film in the past, from card sets to sculpture and even vinyl toys. This exhibit was an opportunity for them to meet with fans and share their most recent creations with the Los Angeles community.
Pictured below are select pieces from the gallery. At the event I had the opportunity to speak with Randy and Denise about the origins, concepts, and execution that went into some of their work. Those notes have been included. Click any of the images to enlarge and truly see the detail put into each piece.
This painting proves that Randy Martinez not only knows his Star Wars characters, but finds the stories in-between the story. This is a training shot of Anakin, much akin to the one we see his son undergo in Episode IV on the Millennium Falcon (only with far more training remotes). Why the two lightsabers? Well, we saw him fight with dual blades in Episode II, so he must have learned that technique somewhere, right? I love Obi-Wan’s expression. He’s like, “Hey check out what he can do.” Diehards will notice whose green ‘saber Anakin is wielding.
Randy really captured Amidala’s presence in this image. She always has a look of subdued emotion, veiled with stern indifference and that totally plays here. The reason why her visage is so prominent in this piece isn’t so much because of her royal stature, but more of a technical reason. Prior to this card, Randy painted a Tusken Raider triumphantly holding a Krayt Dragon tooth, but when the card went to print, the detail of what the Raider was holding was indistinguishable due to its smaller size. So he made the appropriate technical changes here.
While this helmet beautifully crafted by Denise Vasquez wasn’t in the Vader Project, it certainly stood out in this gallery. She acquired the helmet through a fortuitous circumstance and wanted to work with it. She used tweezers to place every single bead onto the helmet, using slow-dry glue so as to make quick adjustments, and concealingly placed Styrofoam to house the flowers. The skulls on the corners of the mask were purchased on impulse, and they give an appropriate message. Those skulls show up later on in Denise’s work, too (see below). This design was never sketched out, as she had it all in her head and didn’t stop working until the piece was complete. Her efforts certainly paid off, and you can bid on the helmet by calling (213-221-4585). Note the Sith symbol on the forehead, and the Imperial symbol on top of the head. These symbols lead into Denise’s second exhibit of the night…
These glow in the dark dolls are Denise’s tribute to the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday where relatives and friends gather to celebrate their loved ones who have died. The symbols on their foreheads are representative of the kind of life they led. The first of these she began to craft was Leia, and when she decided that the typical white gown wasn’t the direction she wished to take, the idea of a skeleton took hold and she ran with it. Positive fan response pushed her to continue the project, and the other character pieces followed. Padme is her favorite because of the texture of her hair. I’m partial to Darth Maul, where those cool skulls show up again.
Below are four separate “raised” character shots by Randy. Each character is cut separately from the background piece, which is made of hand selected Star Wars comics from the original Marvel run published from 1977-1986 (currently being re-printed in graphic novel form as the “A Long Time Ago” series, published by Dark Horse). Randy specifically wanted to use the original comics, and not the re-prints, because the issues are yellowed with character, adding to the integrity of the piece. He searched numerous comic shops in the Los Angeles area, looking for issues with specific moments and great art. The panels that made it into the pieces are far from random. If you look closely, the comics in each of the paintings tell a story; Randy believes every Star Wars character is a representation of some personality trait within each of us, and he highlights these traits in the selected sequential scenes. All four of these took a month to create.
This piece is my favorite of the exhibit, and if I had $7150 lying around, I’d own it. Initially, the background was all white as this image was a t-shirt design for the Star Wars Celebration V event, but Randy wanted to spice it up a bit for this gallery showing. Lando’s pose is influenced by Ted Lange’s physicality in the opening credits of the 1980s TV show, Love Boat. Billy Dee Williams was invited to this affair, but his agent declined. Total bummer.
And now for some images of the 501st:
Randy even designed basketball jerseys with a Star Wars theme!
Here are some more paintings from the showing:
These following two shots are completely unrelated to the works of either of the featured artists. The Captain America sticker was on the wall of the art gallery near the bar, and the second is the coolest piece of artwork I’ve ever seen in a bathroom.
It’s easy to accept these pieces as brilliant works of Star Wars art. What’s even better than them though, is that Randy and Denise are very kind, intelligent, down to earth people- despite always dabbling in a galaxy far, far away. This art exhibit runs from August 20th-September 15th. For more information, visit the Hold Up Art website. Special thanks to Robert Hensley for information on the gallery.