The 254

In Memoriam of Jonathan Martin

By Kevin Tankersley

A Legacy of Love & beauty

Jonathan Martin played a major role in the art scene in Waco. He and his wife, Sara, opened Black Oak Art in 2008, and in 2017, they opened Gather, a retail space that sells pottery from Black Oak, as well as pieces from other local artists.

Jonathan died August 20. He was just 43 years old. He and Sara were married 16 years and had three children: daughter Claire, and sons Jack and Carter.

Fiona Bond, founding executive director, Creative Waco: Jonathan was this constant, anchoring presence in our downtown arts community. It was very moving to hear at his funeral how many people felt that. I have no idea if he knew how great a role he had in Waco’s flourishing. He was a wonderful, big-hearted person who had that rare combination of being a visionary and also action-based. He produced high-quality art, high-quality ceramics, and he turned his ideas into reality in both art and business.

He was really generous of his time and attention to people who needed guidance and investment in their talents. He and Sara invested so much into the ideas of others.

He loved his family so much. That was really evident in the choices he made, how he spent his time and oriented his life. Family was everything. He prioritized the things that mattered.

Emily Mills, founder and chief ideation officer, Jesus Said Love: Jonathan and Sara were a part of Wild Torch, our very first fundraiser for Jesus Said Love and Lovely. We were dreaming of what we wanted this fundraiser to look like. We wanted it to focus on the arts and telling the story of our work in a very creative way so people in Waco could latch onto the story of bringing dignity and humanity to the population we serve, women who have been exploited and trafficked.

Jonathan said, “I can bring my wheel and I’ll throw clay and people can bid on the piece that I create that night. I’ll do this beautiful vessel that will have symbolic meaning, made from dirt and clay and ashes, and turned into this beautiful piece.”

From there, they began to support us in hiring women who came out of our job training program. To this day, one of their most consistent employees, who has been with them for years, is a graduate of our Access program. They have been incredible supporters of her life and her kids’ lives. They provide her with a livable wage and a safe environment to work in. She’s just thrived and loves working for them.

Lisa Monroe, former board member of Art Center Waco and owner of Triliji Group: I met Jonathan when he started his studio. He was making mugs for my Airbnb, Urban Myrtle. He was such an amazing artist and an amazing man. He was such a gentle personality and so giving and willing to further the arts in any way he could. He was an amazing teacher. He did a really fun class for Valentine’s Day one year where you could create your own personalized mug. He donated that to the Art Center.

Their business grew so rapidly, but he would always take time and have a conversation and genuinely be a friend. He was never too busy to do that.

Jonathan Martin was a wonderful friend and champion of the arts community in Waco and he will be dearly missed by the WACOAN and the Waco community.

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