Martin Grelle, CA
Born and raised in Clifton, Texas, Martin Grelle still lives on a small ranch a few miles from town. His studio sits in the picturesque Meridian Creek Valley, surrounded by the oak & cedar-covered hills of Bosque County.
Martin began drawing and painting when he was very young, and was fortunate to have James Boren and Melvin Warren, two professional artists and members of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America, move to the area when he was still in high school. It had a lasting impact on his direction and career. Mentored by Boren, he had his first one-man show at a local gallery within a year of graduating from high school in 1973. In the nearly 40 years since that time, he has produced some 30 one-man exhibitions, including annual shows at Overland Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona since 1989, and has won awards of both regional and national importance at shows around the country.
He was invited into membership with the Cowboy Artists of America in 1995. That same year he was invited to participate in the first Prix de West Invitational at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Since that time he has won the Prix de West Purchase Award, twice (one of only seven artists to do so), the Nona Jean Hulsey Rumsey Buyers’ Choice Award, twice, the CA People’s Choice Award in 2002, the CA Ray Swanson Award in 2008, the CA Buyers’ Choice Award in 2011, 2012, and 2014, and the Silver Award for Water Solubles in 2012 and 2014. He was awarded the Legacy Award by The Briscoe Museum in 2012, for his impact on western art. He was honored with a retrospective showing of his work, along with fellow CA artist, Herb Mignery, for the Gilcrease Museum’s Rendezvous Show 2013.
Beyond his studio, Martin strives to pass on what others have passed to him. He has given multiple demonstrations around the country, teaches an annual weekend workshop and mentors other aspiring artists by critiquing their work. He has donated work to a large number of organizations to aid in their progress, including The Bosque Arts Center in Clifton, Texas.
He has twice served as a Director for the CA organization and served as President for 2013-14. He is also involved with The Joe Beeler Foundation, founded by the Cowboy Artists of America to coincide with their mentoring program, which provides scholarship opportunities for artists seeking to improve their skills, and has served as President of the Foundation as well.
Source: Cowboy Artists of America
Wolves of Winter
Artist: Martin Grelle, CA (b. 1954)Description: Oil (1997) | Image Size: 48”h x 72”w; Framed Size: 63”h x 87 1/2”w
Wolves have great symbolic power in many tribes from the Great Lakes to the Southern Plains. Among the Cheyenne, “wolf soldiers” were one of seven warrior societies. And they believed that by wearing wolf skins and headdresses that the physical and spiritual power of the wolf would be transferred to them.
This large and impressive painting of warriors conversing in a snow laden forest clearly establishes Martin Grelle’s prowess as a masterful artist, storyteller, and student of history. Here, Grelle creates a scene that effectively uses the contrast between shadow and sunlight to enhance its realism. In the center of the painting, he has arranged three mounted warriors and one riderless horse in an inward facing semi-circle serving as its focal point. One warrior is placed in the center of the circle in direct sunlight; his placement keeps the viewer’s eye focused on the ensuing dialogue. The wintry landscape and forest background foster a sense of place for the viewer. The sheer size of the canvas adds to its grandeur and theatrical qualities, as if it were a scene unfolding from an epic movie.
Is it an epic beginning or is it an epic ending? That’s the beauty and mystique and compelling nature of artists’ work; its engagement is the viewer’s entrée to determine.
A Time to Dance
Artist: Martin Grelle, CA (b. 1954)Description: Watercolor on Masonite (2001) | Image Size: 48”h x 48”w; Framed Size: 61 ¾”h x 61 ¾”w
The historic details of location, clothing and weaponry alone make this a highly compelling image of 19th century Plains Indian life. All of the figures are depicted with great skill bespeaking a thorough knowledge of ceremonial dance. However, the painting is much more than a collection of historical details; it is a well composed, colorful presentation that draws its viewers into an entire culture. The canvas is dominated by a lead dancer wearing an eagle feather head dress and carrying a long lance in a leather sheath festooned with more eagle feathers. The lance slices the painting into two halves and also connects the dancer with four other participants who flank the right and left sides of the painting. While the action is played out in front of a group of teepees, several tribal members, some of them elders, watch the proceedings seated in front of the dwellings.
Martin Grelle’s attention to detail, his expertly drawn dancers and their surroundings combine to create a dramatic scene from a time long gone by, but one that feels as fresh as yesterday.
Price of Passage
Artist: Martin Grelle, CA (b. 1954)Description: Oil Painting (1999) | Image Size: 36”h x 48”w; Framed Size: 49.5”h x 60”w
Artist: Martin Grelle, CA (b. 1954)