On A High Note

Birds of a Wooden Feather? The Amazing Works of Randal Martin

Randal Martin

Randal Martin

Randal Martin

When seeking stories of sports or entertainment in and around the Nashville area, Chris (Lee) and I find no shortage. The amazing abundance of talent that lives in this town is positively unbelievable. Not only do we have some of the greatest musicians, recording artists, recording engineers, producers, sports figures, coaches (pro and collegiate) etc., in this town, we also have skaters, actors, dancers, artists and sculptors and much, much more.

When Chris and I talk about what brings people back to these pages – to read our blogs and visit our S&E website, we often remind each other that it is our job to offer stories of real humanness, not to mention stories that are compelling or that offer unique intrigue. Such is the case with today’s story of Randal Martin, an artist and sculptor from Whites Creek (Tenn.), which lies 10 minutes outside of Nashville..

There is an ongoing joke in Nashville that goes something like this: “How do you get a songwriter off of your front porch? You pay him for the pizza.” The insinuation is – in case you missed it – that EVERYONE in Nashville seems to be a songwriter, but we OFTEN forget how much more Nashville offers.

The Nashville Art Community
The art community here – and YES, there is an art community – is vast and sound. There are incredible works of art and artists everywhere you look in this town – and in a few places you don’t.

Randal Martin has been an artist for as long as he can remember. His parents say that since he was old enough to hold a pencil, he has been drawing or creating. Martin has always used his creativity to make a living.

Randal & San Martin

For 20 years now, he and his wife Zan, have owned their own ad agency, Martin & Company, which specializes in the performance automotive aftermarket. Randy serves as the CFO and creative director. Prior to that, he has worked as an illustrator, art director or creative director in some capacity… including within the music industry.

Still, there was an unsung piece of the puzzle still waiting to come together through him – and that happened when Martin heard of a wood-carving workshop in East Tennessee. In his words, he merely thought “it looked like it might be fun.”

Bird carving by Randal Martin

Having a love for the great outdoors as well as a great love and respect for wildlife, the workshop really changed things for him. Martin says still has the first bird he carved, sitting on his mantel.

Birds of a wooden feather
After he started carving, he couldn’t get enough and decided to persist. Zan has been his constant encourager… always cheering him on and helping him to keep the creative juices flowing.

Martin specializes in the carving and painting of birds, as seen on the photos throughout this article, but he does carve other pieces also – like the buffalo you see here.

The detail in the woodcarvings is so dramatic, you would think Martin is holding the bird in his hand, and tracing it into the wood – similar to how a magician creates magic without anyone really realizing what it takes to pull it off. Martin may or may not actually ever see his subjects, but says he finds the Internet an amazing tool; when seeking reference photos, and he can actually work from any photos you might have – should you (yes, you), be interested in commissioning one of his amazing pieces.

Randal Martin with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Randal Martin with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Most recently, Martin presented one of his carvings – our state bird – to our new governor. The response from the governor was gracious and sincere when he told Martin: “On behalf of all the citizens of the Volunteer State, I want to thank Randal Martin for this one-of-a kind carving of the state bird of Tennessee. It is a stunning piece of art to add to the capitol’s collection, and I will proudly display it right here in my office for all to see I understand the White House also has one of your (Martin’s) carvings as part of its permanent archival collection, and we want you to know it is with great honor, that we join their ranks.”

Martin has won dozens upon dozens of awards for his work, from first place at the Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville (Tenn.) in 2001, to the Silver Brush Award at the Tullahoma (Tenn.) Fine Arts Festival.

And in fact, he has won ribbons for every competition over the years since he has focused on wood as his primary medium.

Randal Martin – from Nashville to the White House
Then of course, there was getting his work into the White House – yes, THE White House.

Bluebird ornament Randal Martin carved for the White House Christmas Tree

Bluebird ornament Randal Martin carved for the White House Christmas Tree

Martin was selected to carve a bluebird ornament for the White House Christmas tree when George Bush, Jr. was in office. Thereafter, he and his wife were invited by the first lady to the White House for a special viewing of the nation’s Christmas tree.

When asked, “Where do you go from there?” Martin replies: “Actually, we’ve been in touch with all 50 state capitols to make them the offer of carving their state bird – a state bird for every governor… but I doubt I’d live long enough to do them all. That would be something though, to have a carving in every state capitol.”

Randal & Zan Martin with Laura Bush

Randal & Zan Martin with First Lady Laura Bush

If you are a lover of art, or a lover of the great outdoors and wildlife – or of all of the above – then you may want to discover the talent and gifts of Randal Martin. Martin’s work can be purchased through the Horizon Fine Art Gallery in Jackson Hole (Wyo.) (www.horizonfineartgallery.com) the JRB Gallery in Oklahoma and the Cliff Dwellers Gallery in Gatlinburg (Tenn.).

You can also purchase OR commission pieces through Martin’s website at wood-feathers.com

Gina Hollingsworth of Key Artist Management represents Martin’s work. http://www.keyartist.com/contact or visit www.wood-feathers.com