Three key loves came swirling together for local artist Jo Martinez in her current exhibition at the DC Center — art, the Tarot and safe, affirming LGBT spaces.
Being “a real big fan of volunteering and putting out positive messages in the LGBTQ community,” inspired Martinez to seek out the center upon relocating to the Washington area two-and-a-half years ago.
“I hold the DC Center in high regard,” she says. “They are an organization that really shows empathy and respect to all.”
Martinez discovered the tarot growing up in an environment that used various tools of divination. Tarot cards, she says, just resonated with her. Now she not only gives readings, she has designed her own tarot card deck called “The Fools Journey,” on display now at the Center Arts Gallery (2000 14th St., N.W., no. 105). Individual cards may be purchased or full decks are available for $65. Details at thedccenter.org.
Martinez worked on the deck of 84 cards (most tarot decks feature 78 cards; her additional cards are special “oracle” cards) for about two years applying what she calls her “vibrant and raw art style with a kick” to the usual images used in traditional tarot cards.
Two other decks — “Behind Closed Doors Oracle” and “Luscious Lenormand” — are also on display along with other Martinez works. They can be viewed at the Center through the end of March and online at foxx7122.wixsite.com/jo-offduty.
Martinez, who also holds an unspecified government job, got interested in art in middle school and “really got into it” in high school. She creates at home with pastels, chalks, acrylics, markers and “anything that can get my hands dirty.”
“My art is a different kind of art and I want to attract the LGBTQ community in a positive way,” says the Miami/Brooklyn duel native, who grew up moving a lot with a military family. “My art expresses life experiences that people don’t like to talk about, so if I’m able to create art that says, ‘Hey, I’m just like you,’ … then I’m doing something good.”
Martinez identifies as LGBTQ but eschews anything more specific because “labels limit people and put them in boxes.”
She’s single and enjoys art, of course, reading, yoga and jogging in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Six years; the hardest person till this day is my mother.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
That’s easy — RuPaul. Now sashay away!
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’ve been here only two years and have yet to explore more, but I enjoyed Nellie’s Sports Bar, the Dirty Goose and Town Danceboutique.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’m not “pro” weddings. A partner who loves and respects you will be at your side no matter what and legal documents don’t necessarily reflect that love.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Animal rights and equality.
What historical outcome would you change?
Segregation in the 1960s within the school system. A governor’s motto in that time was “No, not one,” referring to the number of black children that should be allowed to attend schools alongside white children. I can’t wrap my head around that! Not only because children are our future, but because education are the doors to your future.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The 1980s with Prince in “Purple Rain” and Boy George.
On what do you insist?
“Give me options, damn it!” Also equality.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I try to post daily my different art work and my posts are called “My He/Art” or art of the day. I don’t have either Facebook or Twitter but I have Instagram (Jooffduty7).
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“She Saw, She Felt, She Died”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’m all for what makes an individual happy. I’d be fine with it as long as the individual is not doing it to please someone, but doing it for their own well being.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
To not give up the fight. If we made it as far as gay marriage equality, then obviously our voices are being heard. It really takes one person to make a change or impact in this world.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That if you’re gay (LGBTQ) that you automatically want to hit on a non-queer friend.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Blue is the Warmest Color”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
A hug and kiss on the cheek when you meet a person. I was taught in my culture, certain individuals think you’re trying to sleep with them and that is so not the case!
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The Nobel Peace Prize
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I can be in the same career field a man is in.