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Solo J. Edwin Martin likes to say that he’s the only three-totem pole law office in town. He also may be the only attorney in town who practices with a pistol pointed at his head. The gun-toting offender, fortunately, is set in bronze, never to release his fatal bullet. The Old West figure, a sculpture titled “The Law” by artist Fritz White, stands on one side of Martin’s desk in his Founders Square office in downtown Dallas. It’s one of six bronzes in Martin’s collection of Native American and Western art. Originally, Martin was going to have the figure placed so the gun was pointed at chairs his clients sit in. “I thought that might be too intimidating,” he says. “So now I have it pointing at me.” Martin, who practices business, real estate and construction law, began collecting his American Indian and Western pieces in the early ’90s. He had an art gallery for a client, he says, and began trading legal services for bronzes and vases. Two of his bronze figures depict a Native American catching an eagle in his hands. One of them is titled “Ecunticasni Owanyanke,” which is Sioux for “the impossible dream,” Martin says. He adds that it’s a rough translation. “Sioux language doesn’t have a word for impossible,” he says, noting that the closest term is “to have not.” But the totem poles, which are about 6 feet tall, came from an art gallery in Deep Ellum, an eclectic arts and entertainment district on the edge of downtown Dallas. Martin says he purchased the first one because he was attracted to its bright colors and animal carvings, which are more Northwestern than Southwestern in style. “I put one in my office, and it needed friends,” he says, explaining what spurred him to purchase the other two. All three are carved by an artist — he doesn’t remember the name — “who combs the beach in Northern California and Oregon looking for driftwood and carves totem poles.” “I’ve always liked guys that carved their own niche,” Martin says, noting that these totem poles are colorful, not “drab and sleepy” like the traditional Southwestern type. Some of the more vivid pieces in Martin’s collection are the two painted vases by Austin artist Amado Pe�a and a bigger than life-size painting by Bill Schenk of a woman in a Southwestern serape titled “Road to Santa Fe.” His collection also includes a 5-foot bronze sculpture by Frederic Remington that weighs between 300 and 400 pounds (it depicts a Native American on a horse); several limited edition prints by Jackson Hole, Wy., artist Penni Ann Cross; 10 peace pipes; two tomahawks; two bows and arrows; four carved coyotes and two spurs. Martin declines to discuss how much he has spent on his artwork or the value of the collection. Martin says his collection has invited some to think he has some deeper connection to his artwork. “People look at me as though I’ve got a spiritual side,” he says. “That wasn’t my intent when I bought them. I bought them because they looked cool.” “I think it’s phenomenal,” says Randy Johnston, a partner in Johnston Tobey, where Martin has rented office space for the past seven years. “The thing I like best of all is it’s a lawyer who’s willing to express his individuality.” While Johnston says he loves the overall collection — the totem poles best of all — he says no matter what Martin’s decorating style, he would encourage him to continue collecting. “It’s pretty rare, quite candidly, to find a lawyer who is willing to let who he is show through so clearly,” Johnston says. Many lawyers fear losing credibility with clients or peers, so they are afraid to show their character beyond being a lawyer, he says. “Ed is totally unbothered by all of that.” Martin says he’ll keep on collecting as long as he sees things he likes. “If I see it, I buy it and find a place for it,” he says, even if he’s not sure its origin. Of one rain stick he bought, he says: “I have a funny feeling that’s from Australia.”

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