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3 min Read
Published August 1, 2014

Marty Matthews: Revolutionary Artist In The Piedmont

As a professional art dealer, I am constantly looking out for new talent and undiscovered art. I want pieces of art that stand out in a room. Pieces that lead people into discussions that last for hours. Pieces that everybody wants, but only a few can have.

When I saw the Marty Matthews Exhibit at the Halle Cultural Art Center in downtown Apex, I was blown away. Intense reds and blues filled my eyeballs. I saw broken handguns, black and white stencils, metal pipes and rusty gears.

There were messages like “WAR” and “CONFESSIONS.” This was real art. I felt like I had to own all of it and resell it fifty times higher than the asking price.

I wanted to ask this guy so many questions. I wanted to know where he came from and why I hadn’t heard of him before. Luckily, during his opening at the art center, I was able to schedule an interview.

RELATED: Durham Boasts Clara K. Johnson Exhibit.

Here’s what Matthew’s had to say about the North Carolina art scene, and what it means to be an artist in the Piedmont area.


Candid Slice:

  • When I first saw your art hanging in the Apex Cultural Art Center, I was blown away by the depth of color and the intensity of the pieces. I had to know, who is this artist? Where did he come from? And how come I have never heard of him before? Marty can you tell us how you got started?

Marty Matthews:

  • Basically when I was younger, I was a big comic book and animation fan. This sparked an interest in drawing. I took private lessons from sixth grade on up, and later went to school for commercial art and advertising design.


Candid Slice:

  • Your materials are quite extensive. You use things like stencils, lithography plates, medal pipes and rusty gears, iconic imagery. . . How did you get into the mixed media art?

Marty Matthews:

Marty Matthews-- Revolutionary Artist In The Piedmont - 1

  • When I first started, I was doing large scale pen and ink drawings, landscapes and surreal images using ink washes. I used serrated knives and soaking paper in ink. Well, I had broken my arm while I was working, and my right arm was laid up a little bit. So, I would paint with my left hand to get the color on the canvass.
  • Then I started using some materials I found. I kind of like collaged just to see what would work. At first, I used iron spikes and metal pieces with some of my own photography. I also used burlap and glass. Well, the art just kept growing into what it is today. Each material kind of speaks to me, and I just have to find out how I want to use it.


Candid Slice:

  • That brings me to the next question. A lot of your art is quite controversial which could stir up negative emotions in an overwhelmingly conservative community. What are some of the struggles you face being an artist in such a conservative community?

Marty Matthews:

  • I have found that in the Raleigh area, there is still a big draw of water color artists, oil painters, and landscape artists. They are really, really good. There are a lot of great artists who choose to go that way.
  • But I’ve also seen more abstract work—and the kind of work that I do–grow and gain more popularity in art shows. By sticking with the art that I do, I am able to say more about who I am, and what’s going on in the world. The images I use are recognizable and people see it and are touched someway.


Candid Slice:

  • In the “War” piece, I noticed that there was a ruler over the lady’s mouth (Nancy Sinatra). You could kind of interpret that as the rulers who are controlling war, and the common people aren’t able to say anything about it.

Marty Matthews:

  • Exactly. That gave me the hint of how we cover the mouth, and we kind of keep quiet. You don’t want to step on other people’s toes in a PC community about those things.


Candid Slice:

  • Thank you so much for time. I just have one last question. When is your next show, so people can come and see you again?

Marty Matthews:

  • My next show of new work (stuff I’ve been working on this year) will be in Smithfield, NC at the Frank Creech Art Museum. I’ll be showing my new work in the main gallery (which is a really beautiful space).


  • Marty Matthews Revolutionary Artist In The Piedmont - 2
  • Marty Matthews Revolutionary Artist In The Piedmont - 3

The Marty Matthews Exhibit will be displayed in the Halle Cutlural Art Center in downtown Apex through August 22nd. The artist is also available for private viewings. You can find him on Facebook or email him at

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  • Tonya Briggs


  • Tonya is an art dealer currently teaching English in South Korea. She is very passionate about the arts, mainly visual still art. My heart is in the art of lithography and posters, but I am drawn to all kinds of art. All my articles.

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