Large Carbon Riff, 2019, oil on canvas, 68 x 92 inches
Martin: Tomatoes Growing in the Backyard
Much of what I am today I credit to my grandmother, Filomena Maccarone.
My art life started early. The influences that contributed to it have much to do with my upbringing. With a name like Lloyd Martin you wouldn’t immediately think “Italian American,” but that part of my identity has had a strong pull on my life. My mom, Doris Maccarone, was born here on Federal Hill, a well-known Italian neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island. My father was Irish and Swedish with nine (!) brothers. Grandpa, Antonio Maccarone, was the son of a blacksmith from Rocomonfina in the Caserta region of Campania about an hour’s drive from Naples. Filomena’s family was originally from Rome, a family of professionals and business owners. Her father owned an Italian import market on Federal Hill.
I was born in Providence in the late Fifties and lived on the third floor of a tenement house that my grandparents owned. The neighborhood was a mix of Italians and Irish. You could pick out the Italians because they usually had tomatoes growing in the backyard. All of those traditions that many Italian Americans share—the family gatherings on Sundays and holidays, the foods and common ideals—indeed shape you.
I showed an early interest in drawing and painting that was encouraged by my parents and grandparents. My mom’s uncle, Freddy San Antonio, was a painter and a RISD alum, certainly an inspiration to me. He would often send art supplies and showed sincere interest in my young efforts. So I started painting at a very young age. Filomena was persistent in pushing me to go to college and pursue my dreams. When I resisted and rejected and got into some pretty serious teenage trouble, it was she who took charge and righted my ship. I wouldn’t have applied to art school or college if it were not for her. I learned to find my strengths and accept only excellence from her.
The example of hard work and the support that my family demonstrated is the only reason I am still at it. Working toward an imagined ideal that still seems within reach.
Verve, 2018, oil on canvas, 66 x 84 inches
Everywhen 28 and Everywhen 37, both 2020, oil on canvas, 12 x 9 inches