I can relate with someone juggling multiple creative projects at once with no monetary guarantees. I see myself in James Patton, editor of The Martizian, a digital window into local art and its potential for reviving Martinez, CA. In addition to launching the new online publication, he’s also a musician, graphic designer and business owner. People like James define the Bay Area, a region crackling with creative life, but in economic and cultural transition. After reading about The Martizian in my free community paper, I had to reach out. We caught up and walked about town. His thoughts on firing up the arts:
Convening through New Media
The idea for The Martizian came out of working together with someone named Tony Rishell on the Main Street Martinez Committee for Economic Restructuring. We wondered how we could tap into spheres of influence as they relate to culture and community here. A lot of people have pride in Martinez, but the community wasn’t engaged around an identity. What everyone wants is to revitalize the area. Not just commercially. What if we connect an artist network to help promote creative culture?
What inspired me was that we needed new media here to engage people, artists, giving a voice to a new generation, younger business owners. There isn’t a single destination where they can share their voice. I wanted to start a culture magazine, and eventually do it in print, if I could (he runs GLT Sign Solutions, Inc.). One of the goals it to try identify people who feel like they can contribute to the community in ways that would add a new culture spirit that hasn’t been accessible before.
I believe the Gazette had referred to Martinez residents as Martizians in the paper. One thing to have in establishing an identify is for people to feel like they are Martizians. Whether or not they live here, maybe they work here. The people who live here are very supportive of the downtown area. But, public transportation is a challenge. [For people who don’t live here] it feels like it’s off the beaten path a little bit and people associate it with County services, antiques, the court house. Those don’t necessarily draw people here.
Events, Art and Economy
Year round there are great events down here but they draw the same crowd, and people want something different. I’m thinking of an art symposium or a pop up art show. Art and culture bring people together in a way that a lot of other events don’t. It’s not a shopping or dining experience, it’s its own thing. Benicia has a lot of things going on, studios and showings, Vallejo has been developing that and people tell how how cool it is to go there and experience those things. Martinez could really use a more active artist culture.
I really care about Martinez, I want to see it succeed. My business does well when others do well. I do a lot of B to B (business to business). When new businesses move in or when things are happening, that’s helpful to me, but aside from that, it’s just fulfilling to help the best I can, the way I want to help. I think we can take it upon ourselves as Martizians to help Martinez in a different way. I just write, I do what I can in my way, and I want to write more stories for Martinez and bring up things that wouldn’t get exposure through the paper or any other channels. I want to find these stories and share. Eventually, I want to have enough content to run a print quarterly, to have stories out in the community, have stories to shine light on what city government is doing.
I want to form an identity that we share, that there are cool things happening, there are personalities. I really admire that about Oakland, where you are not hard pressed to find whether some culture magazine or events going on, it’s visible, people seem really engaged. Even I go there and feel like a part of it. That’s what I would like for Martinez. If someone came to an event here, I would want them to feel a part of it. It will attract people and business. That’s one thing we have going for us here, we aren’t as affected by corporate. That’s when authentic, unique places pop up. People do it because they are passionate. It’s not like “I’m going to come to Martinez to make money,” but, it’s that I have a passion for what I want my business or my contribution to be. You can do that, you can be yourself.