Gigmaker Anthony Martin of Winona, Mo. to demonstrate at 2023 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Anthony Martin, Gigmaker
As a child, Anthony played often near his late grandfather’s workshop, where the elder Martin turned out forged gigs, used for night fishing on Ozark riverways. Anthony mimicked his grandfather’s actions then, but the elder died before he could teach his grandson. Anthony now eagerly apprentices with a master gigmaker, who did learn from the elder Martin in the 1990s.
Anthony’s grandfather was the late Paul Martin, who taught in Missouri’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (TAAP) in 1996. At his peak, Paul Martin said that he would make two gigs a day for $20 each (later the gigs went for $40 each), totaling over 3,000 in his lifetime. He made gigs to supplement his income, to make something he found aesthetically pleasing, and to sustain the fish gigging tradition that was so dear to him, his family, and his neighbors.
Paul Martin taught Ray Joe Hastings of Doniphan, Mo. that year in TAAP. As a gig collector and bow fisher, Hastings was more than familiar with Mr. Martin’s craftsmanship, so much so that Hastings eventually convinced the retired gigmaker to teach him. From that mentorship, apprentice Hastings evolved his skills, wrote a book, demonstrated a numerous events, and taught his own TAAP apprentices in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2019, and 2021.
Anthony Martin, Paul’s grandson, was Hastings’ 2021 TAAP apprentice, and Hastings is thrilled not only to have the story come full circle but also with Anthony’s skills and artistry. Hastings thinks so much of Anthony Martin’s abilities and cultural knowledge that the master artist recommended his apprentice to the 2023 Smithsonian Folklife Festival curatorial team to demonstrate on the National Mall as part of The Ozarks: Faces and Facets of a Region.
Anthony, accompanied by Rebekah (his wife and assistant), will demonstrate daily at the festival, typically from 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and occasionally share his family’s traditions from the festival’s narrative stage, June 29 – July 4 and July 6-9, 2023.
For a glimpse into Ray Joe and Anthony’s apprenticeship, check out Episode 7 of My Ozarks documentary series that begins with words of wisdom from Anthony.
These days, as Anthony prepares for the 2023 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, he is often joined by his son Riley, who he hopes will continue the tradition into the future. To learn more about the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, read last year’s guidelines here: https://mofolkarts.missouri.edu/traditional-arts-apprenticeship-program/
Addendum, August 19, 2023: for a new article, Gigmaking Generations, from Rural Missouri by Editor Emeritus Jim McCarty visit the link here below; thanks to Jim for sharing his photos with us.
Posted August 14, 2023 by Lisa L. Higgins