Art & Culture
Read Time: 4 min

from corporate to creativity

Redux Extra August 26, 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Martha Spak, the owner of Martha Spak Gallery, is a self- taught artist who finds creativity through her own experiences everywhere. Spak is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She began painting more than 20 years ago when she retired from her corporate career with Discovery Communications. She then discovered art was a passion where she
could share her vision of the world around her. Spak is best known for her ethereal landscapes and soft abstract paintings. Her painting style is appropriately known as ethereal because the images are original, delicate and divine. She began painting in oils and now paints mostly with acrylics. Her paintings immediately project elegance and tranquility. Spak’s personality exudes the same calmness and composure as seen in her paintings. She comes across as a serene and tranquil lake complete in itself. Each stroke of her brush is placed with purpose on the canvas. Colors, highlights and content are contemplative and peaceful. Spak’s paintings are created with soft edges and soothing colors. She calls her work “soft paintings” because she likes a soft edge. Spak
creates landscapes, seascapes and abstracts that are uplifting and connect with the viewer. “I think my artistic style resonates with what people are looking to have in their homes,” Spak said.

Spak’s real pleasure and joy is in the process of
creating from a blank canvas. She creates art to
present a positive, uplifting point of view. She is
gifted in finding and capturing the beauty in nature
and likes to create a little whimsy and wonderment
to give a viewer “an unexpected reprieve from the

Spak’s earliest influences in art and her inspiration
to become an artist is rooted in her relationship with
her talented grandmothers who each have a love for

“Both encouraged me to paint alongside them when
we spent time together,” Spak recalled. Although
they had two different personalities and artistic
styles, Spak inherited the best of both: the structure
and discipline from the paternal side, and the
freestyle, emotions and patience from the maternal

She remembers watching both of her grandmothers
create. Watching the process eventually made her
realize creating art is what she wanted to do.
“I was inspired to continue when I sold my first
painting and received an award. For me, it was
validation to continue painting,” Spak said. “I realized
that creating was a passion and my future career.”
For the past 25 years, she has been painting
professionally, and recently, she has started sculpting.
Spak loves to experiment with new mediums and
loves learning about different art materials.
During the early pandemic, she sculpted from
gypsum for a series of female figures entitled, “Bird
Ladies.” More recently she has started sculpting
large format abstract metal forms.

One of her metal sculptures was juried into “SHINE,”
a show at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Art
Center in Solomons, Maryland. The show runs June
11 to Aug. 30, 2021. Another of her large-scale
ceiling sculptures is currently installed in her gallery
at the Wharf.

According to Spak, during the early pandemic
shutdown and as people were staying close to
home, there was a surge in interest with people
wanting to refresh their home with art. Zoom
made it very easy to communicate with clients and
became an excellent tool to cater to their needs,
such as presenting art selections and showing art
placement possibilities.

The gallery eventually reopened with safety
protocols in place and restarted the in-person
exhibitions. Spak feels very fortunate that visitors
have come to the gallery eager to learn about new
artists and their works.

One of the major areas of Spak’s artistic endeavors
is curating exhibitions at Martha Spak Gallery at
the Wharf, where she exhibits the work of local
artists along with her own work.

Spak finds curating exhibitions fulfilling and fun.
She explained that it is a chance for her to showcase
local artists and offer community engagement
opportunities such as art demonstrations, artist
talks and workshops. She sends out a monthly
newsletter to those who have signed up and are
interested in events at the gallery. People can sign
up to stay connected to the gallery events through
the website and sign up page as well.

She curated over 50 exhibits, and she has exhibited
over 140 artists through solo and group shows
since opening of the gallery in 2017. She invites
only local artists to the gallery, and she selects
artists with an eye for unique artistic viewpoints.
She loves meeting Wharf visitors and clients who
are interested in adding new art to their collections.
Spak finds many artists, mostly mid- career artists,
who are looking for opportunities to show their
work, but she exhibits artists from early career to
seasoned professionals. One of her best-selling
artists happens to be 85 years old.

She also organizes special projects to help young
artists or students who would be interested in
learning about the stages of an art project.
“When I was the finalist for a DC School Mural
project, I invited a DC high school student to help
in its creation,” Spak said.

She believes there are other ways to promote
local artists besides the exhibitions at the
gallery, and she likes to connect artists with art
opportunities. For instance, she has shared an art
grant opportunity with several artists who showed
at the gallery. One artist was awarded significant
grant money toward an art project. Sometimes she
even collaborates with artists whom she has met
through the gallery shows. Spak is always ready
and willing to work with artists who have mutual
goals and a professional attitude.

When asked what message she’d share with young
artists, Spak said: “My advice to young artists is to
focus on creating your best work, set your goals
and believe in yourself.”

Through distribution channels, Spak’s work has
appeared on movie sets and several television
series’, such as House of Cards and Good Girls,
among many national publications.

Reproductions of her work are sold through
catalogues like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel,
William Sonoma and other national retailers.
Our congratulations to Spak for growing her
business in spite of the pandemic. Her expanding
business toward corporate clients and site specific
public art projects are keeping her busy, but she is
always enthusiastic to take on new projects!
Spak lives in Potomac, Maryland, with her husband,
and they have two children. Her work can be
purchased through her website or by direct sale at
the gallery.

Follow her on Instagram and Facebook for regular
art updates. Martha Spak Gallery is located at 60
District Square, SW, Washington, DC 20024 and is
open Thursday –Sunday 12-6 and by appointment.
To contact Spak, email her GalleryDirector@

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