A profile of Gabriel Martinez and his Artpace exhibition Mountain War Time:
On the morning of July 16, 1945, outside of his home in New Mexico, a young boy holds a funnel as his father fills the radiator of their pickup – a rare event for some but a daily task in his household. An explosion occurs. Blasts, explosions, bombs are all common in the Tularosa Basin. 15 miles away from the White Sands Proving Ground, the boy is accustomed to hearing them all, but this explosion is different, louder, bigger. This explosion is a test.
[martinez-1] A test, codenamed Trinity, has caused a muddy cloud to rise into the air, its winds coating the area in a volatilized silica. The boy watches, fixed in place, astounded by the exploding mushroom in the distance. Not privy to this test, the young boy’s mother blames his father for kicking up dirt all over her freshly done laundry.
The boy, named Henry Herrera, is now fully grown and gives his testimony of the 1945 nuclear test in an installation titled Mountain War Time by Houston-based artist Gabriel Martinez. On view at Artpace in San Antonio through September 13, Mountain War Time depicts Martinez’s research into the first atomic detonation and the dangers of its radioactive fallout for the area and the people who inhabited it.