Susan Martin is internationally recognized for her visionary leadership and innovative collaborations with groundbreaking cultural creators, curators, and organizations. Since beginning her arts career in the early 70s in Los Angeles, and 80s in New York City, Martin has worked with prestigious galleries and museums, performance venues, cutting-edge artists, and issue-oriented nonprofits to curate, produce and promote performance, special events, books, and exhibitions. With special expertise in adventurous marketing and publicity, Martin’s diverse areas of interest and expertise do more than simply co-exist—they are the foundation for a deep understanding of the role of arts and culture in contemporary society.
She has produced and collaborated extensively with visionary artists including Laurie Anderson, Beck and Al Hansen, Lynda Benglis, Charles Brittin, Rhys Chatham, Lucinda Childs, Guy de Cointet, Marcel Dzama, Karen Finley, Diamanda Galás, Mike Gira and Swans, Philip Glass & Ensemble, Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler, Liza Lou, Lydia Lunch, Linda Montano, Meredith Monk, Herman Nitsch, Nam June Paik, Izhar Patkin, Rachel Rosenthal, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, and Robert Wilson..
In 2015, Martin re-launched Some Serious Business, an innovative artist-based organization she co-founded in 1976, known for presenting visionary artists, creators, and thought-leaders. She is also the Creative Consultant for Howl! Happening in New York City and co-curated and edited the catalog for the Lydia Lunch exhibition So Real It Hurts (2015).
SOME SERIOUS BUSINESS
Martin co-founded Some Serious Business in 1976, producing the first-ever performances and events in Southern California with seminal creators like Laurie Anderson, Lynda Benglis, Lucinda Childs, Guy de Cointet, Philip Glass & Ensemble, Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler, Linda Montano, Herman Nitsch, Nam June Paik, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, and Robert Wilson.
Today, under Martin’s leadership, the visionary four-decade legacy of Some Serious Business as an artist-centered, highly collaborative partnership model offers visionary artists, creators, and thought-leaders resources to incubate emerging ideas, generate new work, and present their work to the public through performances and interludes, artist-driven salons, and residencies. SSB produces opportunities for new art to expand existing boundaries, incite unexpected passions, raise issues that advance knowledge and understanding of our world, and spark peak experiences—opening doors to the transformative power of art in contemporary society.
Martin began working with galleries in the 70s at Zeitlin & Ver Brugge Antiquarian Booksellers in Los Angeles, where she established a photography department and subsequently served as founding director of the G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, the first gallery of vintage and contemporary photography in Los Angeles. During the 90s, Martin worked for L.A.’s Track 16 Gallery, where she helped curate seminal exhibitions and performances including Decade of Protest: Political Posters from the United States, Cuba and Viet Nam; Forming: The Early Days of L.A. Punk; and Man Ray Paris–LA, among others.
Martin began her work in publishing at Zeitlin and Ver Brugge in Los Angeles. In the 90s, she was the editor of Graystone books, publishing monographs on George Hurrell and Baron Adolph de Meyer. She was also managing editor of Smart Art Press, publisher of books and catalogs on art and social history. She was responsible for the publication of more than 50 books, catalogs and monographs by artists such as Karen Finley, Rachel Rosenthal, Chris Kraus and Semiotext(e), Jim Shaw, Pierre Molinier, and Charles Brittin, as well as the first catalog to feature the work of Marcel Dzama. She also edited the Public Offerings and The Experimental Exercise of Freedom catalogs for Paul Schimmel, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
Martin was a founder of Labor Records in New York, where she was active in the DIY and new music scene. Labor released the first-ever recordings by Mike Gira and Swans, as well as new music like Petr Kotik’s “Many, Many Women,” albums by vintage bluesmen like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi Fred McDowell, and a contemporary interpretation of songs by Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler.
She has produced performance events and marketing campaigns for wide-ranging organizations, including nightclubs like the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge, Danceteria, and the Mudd Club; record labels like Ze Records; performance groups like The Kitchen, Wooster Group, LaMaMa and others, including Meredith Monk’s The House; and cutting edge creators like Lydia Lunch, Diamanda Galás, Swans, Rhys Chatham, Izhar Patkin, and Penny Arcade.
With Some Serious Business, she produced bi-coastal performance, exhibition, and book launch events for artist Quintan Ana Wikswo’s The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us This Far at Howl! Happening in New York City and in Los Angeles at Tuesdays @ Monk Space.
MARKETING and PUBLIC RELATIONS
Martin established her public relations firm in early 80s New York, working with Dr. Mathilde Krim at the AIDS Medical Foundation and was the architect of Art Against AIDS, a national fundraising effort with Elizabeth Taylor as National Chair for the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).
She served as communications director for the citywide World Festival of Sacred Music – Los Angeles, instigated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; as marketing director for UCLA Performing Arts (UCLA Live!) under the leadership of David Sefton; and special events and public relations counsel for the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division.
Martin was marketing counsel to the Centre Pompidou Foundation, creating an identity and branding for this important group of high-level American collectors, and has led marketing projects for organizations including the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts); The Kitchen; La MaMa; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Metro Creative Services/Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Otis College of Art and Design; the Santa Monica Museum of Art; SITE Santa Fe; Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc); and The Wooster Group.
She worked with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on their retrospective of 20th century design legend Ettore Sottsass, and served on the board while helping to organize the opening exhibition of the Santa Monica Museum of Art at Bergamot station, of Beck and Al Hansen: Playing with Matches and Liza Lou’s dazzling Backyard. She edited the catalogs for both shows.
In New Mexico, Martin led the marketing team for Los Desaparecidos/The Disappeared Collaborative Project, one of the largest community-based cultural events in Northern New Mexico history, as well as for SITE Santa Fe’s Fifth International Biennial—Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque—organized by former MoMA curator Robert Storr.
Martin is the president of the Northern Youth Project in Abiquiú, New Mexico, and serves on the advisory board of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles.