In June of 2019 Jet Martinez painted a mural in a shared outdoor space between Sherwood Design and Foreign Cinema. This stunning 70′ x 45′ mural was inspired by paintings done on bark paper in the states of Cuernavaca and Guerrero in South Central Mexico. The bark paper comes from a tree called the amate tree, and therefore the paintings are called “pinturas de amate” or “amate paintings”.These bright multicolored compositions generally portray birds in tree branches surrounded by symmetrical floral arrangements and often some type of terrestrial animal below.
These paintings are a huge part of Jet’s memories of his upbringing and his home town of Cuernavaca. He started painting this style to both pay homage to his home state and to create something that resonated with Mexican people as a symbol of their beautiful culture in the midst of increasing antagonism in current politics. However, in working on these pieces, Jet has found that his works resonate with people from many different backgrounds. In his research, he discovered that this motif of birds in branches is one of the most common and persistent themes in folk arts from all over the world. The word “amate” can have a double meaning: “amate” – the tree, or “ámate” – love yourself.
Jet’s hope is that most people will find something that seems familiar in the work and inspire them to love their culture and embrace others. After all, we all do share a common human heritage and experience.