As the sun sets on Spanish Harlem, it's shadowed by steel commuter frames and towering projects. This historical city offers generations of families a unique quality of life and allows natives to come and go as they please. Distinct reputations separate Manhattan as a melting pot but only Harlem can embrace its residents and cater to their culture. As New York matures its citizens adapt to the change... but never once does New York expect anyone to settle. Newyorican Martin Galindo has overcome statistics, obstacles and now walks these notorious streets proving that even the sky-high apartments are not the limit. Combining out of state visits to Philadelphia, Maryland, California and Washington D.C. helped diversify and inspire 19-year-old Galindo to change the direction of his own fate. Creating opportunities for himself by utilizing his street smarts and natural love for fine art has him standing in the spotlight as he hangs one canvas at a time.
The early death of his mother and neglect from his birth father forced Martin's abuela to raise him. Running the streets and hustling as a young provider helped introduce him to most of Harlem's local business owners. The benefitting factor of these relationships would come much later in this young man's life but as for gaining street credibility and knowledge, most of his adolescent years depended on mere survival skills. Battling past due bills kept Martin in a constant struggle to make ends meet but never distracted him from his immense passion for the arts. I say this loosely considering this modest lyricist has a hidden library of unpublished freestyles stored on lined pages and spiral bindings. Art in all forms is something that has always been a part of him and steered him to his first painted sign of hope.
Considering Manhattan offered classy venues filled with gold-leafed frames and doormen, Harlem's son decided to take a unique opportunity and convert a simple space into this art connoisseur's personal challenge. With no official art experience, Martin accepted his first art related position and transformed an empty room to an urban inner city art studio. The bare walls of the Poet's Den were rented to Martin in 2009. Before Eddie Mateus and Rafael Benavides could walk away from the lot, passion and determination flooded the space. A solid business plan was in effect; splitting proceeds 33 percent, three ways guaranteed that street art would grace the condemned space and bring life to the upper Manhattan's locals. Ricardo's Steakhouse was next to display local artist. Martin pitched the clever idea to hang artists' work on the popular dining location's walls and have patrons purchase art while sipping on cocktails. The new concept exceeded their expectation, and it was on to the next one.
After earning a promotion, the new curator's crash course to selling art continued. With his barrio's best intention engrained in his heart he decided to take a risk. What was typically frowned upon was his next brilliant idea, graffiti art. "I wanted to introduce art in general. "Street artists are talented and deserved a platform too." Combining the sophistication of a gallery experience with undiscovered artist brought attention to the popular street craft offering lucrative opportunities for Harlem's finest. Literally shining a light on the same art that was infamous as a criminal act was now socially accepted and sold to hang in homes and offices. Restoring hope for local residents, Martin was now focused on securing the art scene for New York. Succeeding even his own expectations, he commissioned the talented spray paint legend, Sen One and featured his show "POST NO BILLS." "It was time to crack this art gallery life open and I managed to develop a crazy network."
Never leaving his day job, he worked days as security in the same senior home his grandmother resided in. Since having to invest all of his own money in the gallery, he worked to support his vision. With a natural eye for talent, Martin developed a relationship with an inspired elder artist. Angelo Romano had already gained international recognition for his signature "Angels" that were distributed all over the world and for his advocacy for the aids epidemic. Believing in Romano's message, Martin hosted his second show featuring the unique crafts at the West Side Federate Senior Housing center. As a natural business man and grandson of an elderly resident, he saw an opportunity and decided to take a leap of faith. Reaching out to celebrity dentist, Dr. Lee Gauss of Smile Design Gallery, Martin established a connection that would eventually benefit him greatly. With the constant struggle to keep his financial obligation to the gallery, Martin accepted a less than favorable position with some inner-city construction workers. Working in hazardous conditions forced him to walk out from a site and faced him with a financial crisis. With hard hat in hand and alone on a bench one particular person came to mind, Dr. Lee Gause, and so he decided to present himself again except this time it was for personal gain. Stating his situation, he expressed his need for employment and the benefits of hiring him. With a common passion for the arts, the two paired up and Galindo was immediately hired as The Smile Design Galley operations officer and manager.
Since joining SDG he has reinvented the social art platform by walking away from simple gallery concepts and creating an experience for art patrons to enjoy. He has sparked the interest of collectors by teaming up with renowned artist Chi Modu, UR New York, Angelo Romano and many more. He successfully and tastefully merged the concept of art and live entertainment for a memorable experience. Managing to change tradition, Martin's perspective is revolutionizing the art scene. Offering art battles, nude painting, live bands and active participation has people wanting more. Keeping a positive attitude and good sense of style, the handsome young entrepreneur has raised the bar and continues to revamp the arts. I've had the pleasure of attending a few events hosted on behalf of the Smile Design Gallery and seen the celebrity cliental, high end collectors and hungry new faces gawk at his work. Raising money for various charitable causes is his main priority alongside Dr. Gause. His creative execution recently benefited holocaust survivors by offering free dental work solely funded by art sales. "My main goal is to help charities; whether it be homeless, elders, teen pregnancy, hurricane victims or the Jewish survivors... we help pair the demographic of people in need with art. "
With his efforts in full swing, what interest me most about Martin is in natural Latin passion and his connection to music. I personally connect on both levels and as a young go-getter myself I respect his drive. Music is used as an outlet for many, but when raised on the inner city streets, music is the first introduction to the arts. "I always relate art to music; Biggie Puff lyrically spoke of what I saw as a child. They expressed themselves through their songs." I listened as he proudly explained his title at the Smile Design Gallery and how it has changed not only his life but the lives of many artists he's displayed and sold. "If I can help deserving people get free dental work forever, I will be happy."
With a natural eye for talent, Martin has secured his position in the office while keeping his feet firmly on the city cement. He has introduced the next Basquiat and Warhol's to the masses while staying committed to the communities in need. Turning his life around by stepping into a life of uncertainties never guaranteed his success but the city in which raised him taught him never to settle either. As the city that never sleeps continues to educate its citizens, Galindo strides to never disappoint. Whether it in the streets scouting artist or down on Wall Street handling venues, Martin has proven that he is the kid to watch. The up and coming months are bursting with exciting news, he has a slew of events to look forward to including the presentation of Wu Tang's Hybrid Arts to be seen in Miami during Art Basel and in the A$AP MOB Art show at the Harlem Fine Art Show. Harlem's landscape may overshadow many dreams but Martin is proof that in the shade lurks opportunity, you just have to paint your destiny in color to envision a vibrant future.