Spotlight on Tim Martin; The Artist Behind the Riviera Theater Mural


By Katie Internicola


In light of the completion of his recent mural at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda, we got the opportunity to sit down with the man that made it happen. Tim Martin, a lifelong painter, artist, and overall talent, sat down with us to chat about his story and his artwork.



Tim’s Backstory

After graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a Visual Communication degree and taking graphic design courses at Kent State, Tim worked in advertising and as an art director in Illinois. Eventually, he decided to move back to Buffalo. But with this, he had to start from square one. He got a job hand-painting billboards and soon started a side gig painting murals for children's rooms. His work caught the attention of many and Tim started his own business full time. He traveled around the country painting in all kinds of styles for commissions, such as Trompe l'oeil (illusion art that appears three-dimensional on a flat surface). He now has an extensive portfolio and is recognized for his work by the International Decorative Painter’s Salon.



The New and the Old Rivera Mural

Tim was the original artist of the first mural at the Riviera Theatre. The original design featured the famous image from Charlie Chaplin’s short movie “The Circus”. They decided to feature Chaplin since the Riviera was built around the same time the movie came out. The design has Chaplin and a child peeking around the corner of a 'wall', which is why the middle of the old mural was left with the exposed brick. The ‘wall’ they were looking around was to feature movie posters to promote what the Riviera was showing at the time. After painting Chaplin and the gold Wurlitzer embellishments, there was one problem; a telephone pole that hung right in the middle of the building. Management told him to hold off, as they were hoping to reroute the wires underground promptly. Nevertheless, It took them ten years to complete this task, leaving Tim unable to finish the piece.



But about a year and a half ago, the new management at the Riviera contacted Tim inquiring if he was the original artist. He brought them his original design, and they loved the concept. They decided to keep the Chaplin imagery and the gold Wurlitzer embellishments but wanted to incorporate the current live music aspect of the Riviera into the new design. They decided to swap out the poster wall for a lively concert, with a packed crowd and a band performing.



Finally Complete

The mural is now complete, and it adds a special touch to the streets of North Tonawanda. The close detail and the beautiful artistry employed by Tim give the theatre a whole new ambiance. We asked Tim about his feelings toward finally being able to finish this piece.


“I love doing what I do. No matter what the job is, I get to create something for someone. This one is something that I’ve always wanted to finish. It's fantastic now that it’s a full wall and it’s going to be finished.”



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