STUDIO VISIT: Big bold art from tiny Mena Martini

It constantly amazes me what my little Italian friend can produce! Mena Martini has the ability to create a wildly vivid colorful acrylic abstract, then a beautiful floral abstract in oil and finally a peaceful calming minimalist abstract landscape, all in the same week…amazing creative versatility!


I met Mena 5 years ago when my friends Catherine Fields, Therese Joseph, Lori Bagneres and I decided to take an abstract course with Nurieh Mozaffari. This was the “sowing” period of the 5enses group which we formed later that fall. Mena overheard the four of us speaking French, as we often do when we are together, and joined in. Apart from Italian, she speaks French, English and Spanish fluently! We loved the addition of this wise little European influence in our fold and after a few sessions we became a cohesive supportive painting group.  


Her background

Mena was born in a gorgeous quaint seaside village in Italy called Vieste…on the stirrup of the boot; cliffs cascading into the ocean and miles and miles of blue-green water.


She received her MA and taught in Italy, then worked in France and later Canada with forays to Mexico, Africa and Asia. She also wrote a book entitled Cristallo which garnered the Bressani Literary Prize. She lives and paints full-time in West Vancouver. She even plays the harp.


Her studio space

Mena’s studio is a large ground level white-walled room with plenty of space for her many canvases on the go. She divides her time between oils and acrylics and thus has two work stations, a cozy fireplace, with 25 ft by 15 ft in which to circulate, ponder the progress of her paintings, and exhibit her paintings during the annual North Shore Art Crawl.



Mena’s influences

On a book shelf in her studio, you will find her many inspirations…from Mark Rothko to Jean Miotte, Gerhard Richter to Helen Frankenthaler. Classical music fills the air. It is a beautiful peaceful space.



The Venice Biennale

In 2011, as part of the Venice Biennale, Mena was asked to participate in a special expose of art in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. She and two other ex-pat Italians living in British Columbia, painter Andrea Padovani and sculptor Davide Pan, exhibited their work at the Italian Institute in Vancouver and also made a video of their art to be viewed continually at the Italian pavilion at the Biennale. Very exciting!


Where you can find her work

Mena’s work can be found in various galleries, namely Bucklands Southerst in West Vancouver, Portico Gallery in Squamish and at Bird on a Wire in Vancouver. She has also been recently taken on by Galleria D’Arte Rosanna D’Adamo in Pescara, Italy.

My vote is to go to Italy to see her work!!



6 thoughts on “STUDIO VISIT: Big bold art from tiny Mena Martini

  1. I was privileged enough to visit this inspirational studio at the invitation of a truly gracious lady. She generously let me natter on for an hour about art, lovingly answered the endless questions of an individual who is passionate about painting and let me admire her canvases for as long as I wanted. Even before I met her, I wrote that I couldn???t decide which canvas I liked the best. Seeing them in person didn???t make my decision any easier. However, I chose one that has given me great joy and serenity in a, sometimes, chaotic office environment.

  2. Great things come in small packages…yes indeed this applies to our little dynamo friend and fellow 5enses artist Mena….a true inspiration to our group. I guess this completes the studio visits of our group Sara, I want to thank you personally for all The time and effort you have given to us ….and for your continued efforts in shining the limelight on the artists in our community. You certainly have a knack for this…way to go!XO

  3. Thank you all for your comments…I love meeting these artists and visiting their creative spaces. I’m happy you appreciate these posts. Stay tuned!

  4. I have been very lucky to be in Mena’s life for a few years although it feels like we have known each other for ever. Mena puts all her passion in everything she does in life: her painting, her writing, her cooking and her friendship, in a humble and spirited way.

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