UNC artist Marvin Saltzman's legacy lives on in landscapes
Saltzman paints landscapes. His vibrant paintings, consisting of a multitude of colored glyphs, make up mountainous landscapes, rivers and trees. Saltzman’s process is an interesting one. Drawing from nature, he paints exclusively from memory.
He travels around the world, and while on-site, he draws rough graphite sketches of shapes he sees in nature. He then takes these black and white sketches and paints the landscapes in color solely from memory.
“I don’t invent color,” he said. “Nature invents its own color. I just see it.”
Saltzman’s work is currently on exhibit at the Eno Gallery in Hillsborough until Aug. 17, and an artist salon will be held where he will talk about his work, inspiration and process.
Mark Donley, gallery director, said he is very fortunate to have his work shown at Eno Gallery and represent an artist he considers an icon in North Carolina.
“The way he works and the way he mixes color is just gorgeous,” he said. “When he is putting his work together, it’s very intellectual in his head.”
Saltzman works in a series. He hangs up multiple palettes around his studio, rotating them around until they’re determined finished.
“The painting tells me it’s finished,” he said.
Donley said although he sees Saltzman’s work as playful, he wants the viewer to interpret his or her own emotions from it.
“His use of color, planes and, in particularly, the glyphs to bring out this almost joyous exuberance, it’s almost playful,” Donley said.
Saltzman has led quite a legacy in the arts community in Chapel Hill. In 1998, Saltzman was honored with the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts. But he didn’t stop there — at the age of 83, although retired, he continues to work on his art every day of his life.
Saltzman has also left quite a few footprints in the Tar Heel footpath. From 1967 to 1996, he was a faculty member at UNC.
Among his accomplishments, he was a driving force in helping the art department move toward racial and gender diversity and helping found the Hanes Art Center along with Joseph Sloane.
Saltzman said he has always had an eye for art.
“I come from a family of painters,” he said. “Art has always been a part of my life.”
This eye is the one that tells him when a series is finished and what works and doesn’t. This eye is also what helped him critique his student’s works.
Sculptor Thomas Sayre said when he was one of Saltzman’s students, he was often intimidated by his critiques.
“He’d come in and say, ‘This sucks,’ right before he’d say, ‘You should just not do that,’” Sayre said. “My next response will be, ‘Well, why do you think that?’ and it’s often very interesting why he thinks that .”
He said Saltzman’s eye for art and his blunt honesty is what continues to influence him throughout his career.
“I think the spirit of (Saltzman) influences me in my work and my life,” he said.
“The way (Saltzman) looks at the world has been an influence to me. When a life is influenced, the art that comes out of that life is influenced.”
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