Melissa Martin has come full circle as she relaunches her art career at the Rollin Art Centre. Martin started as the new arts administrator at the gallery on July 4, replacing Gareth Flostrand, who retired after nine years in the position.
“I’m getting excited about (art) again and doing what I love,” she said. “It’s a position I hope to grow and to widen our audience.”
Martin grew up in New York with the influence of her artistic father, Derek Seddon, who was one of the founders of Art in the Park at Stanley Park in Vancouver in the 1950s.
She transferred to the University of Dayton, Ohio where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and since then, art has remained a passion for her.
Martin moved back to Vancouver in 1988 and to Port Alberni in 1991, when her husband Trent was transferred here. They have raised two sons, Ellis, 15, and Foster, 11, who play hockey competitively.
“Galleries have been a huge part of my life,” says Martin, acknowledging her father, who still paints landscapes in oils. She started her own interior design business, Chadwick Interior Design, in 1993 and has designed interiors and marketing concepts for commercial and residential properties.
In the early 1990s she started a design review board in the city to help businesses create a cohesive look, but a lack of commitment from business owners led to the board’s demise.
In 2008-09 Martin worked as a museum assistant at the AV Museum, working at McLean Mill and helping hang displays at the Maritime Discovery Centre (she painted the mural inside the lighthouse gallery). She also spent 10 years as a Fall Fair director in charge of the floral and horticulture building.
Martin says her goal as the new arts administrator is to steer young children towards the arts, and to bring art to children. She hopes to do that through the schools, although she hasn’t yet approached the school district with her thoughts.
“That’s my vision,” she said. “to excite them (about art). Kids need an outlet; some need more than academics. I was blessed to hve that in school and I had parents who were very supportive of the arts,” she said.
“Art is the first to go (with budget cuts) and I think we need to bring it back to these children.”
Martin welcomes people to drop by the Rollin Art Centre with their feedback, and says volunteers are always appreciated.
The Rollin Art Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.