Whether painting the Native Americans in a dramatic, picturesque setting, or the American cowboy in the dusty cattle-working pens, Martin Grelle captures the spirit, beauty, and vastness of the West in his historically-accurate, compelling images. Grelle studies diligently to portray the diverse cultures of the American West accurately and with sensitivity. His knowledge of the cowboy’s way of life, gained from his time spent horseback on ranches during the annual Cowboy Artists of America’s (CAA) trail ride, as well as the time spent with local ranchers and friends, is evident in his contemporary cowboy paintings. The many hours spent in museums, at historical re-enactments, in visiting with experts on Native American culture, and reading from his extensive library, have helped him to bring his vision of the Plains Indian culture to life on canvas.
For more than 30 years Grelle has made a career of his art, and has won awards of both regional and national importance. In 1995, he was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America, and he is one of the younger active members. He is currently serving his second term on the board of directors for that organization, and participates in the Annual CAA Exhibition and Sale at the Phoenix Art Museum each October. Grelle won the CAA People’s Choice Award in 2002, for his painting Monarchs of the North, and the Ray Swanson Memorial Award in 2008, for his painting Newlyweds. He has also been privileged to participate in other major juried shows across the United States. Included in that list are the Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which he has participated in each year since 1995, the Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition & Sale at the Autry National Center, and the inaugural Quest for the West Exhibition & Sale at the Eiteljorg Museum. Awards of merit include the Prix de West Purchase Award, which he won in 2002 for his painting Teller of Tales, and again in 2005, for his painting Two Coups, making him one of only 6 artists to have won the top award twice. Grelle has also won twice the Nona Jean Hulsey Ramsey Buyer’s Choice Award at Prix de West, first in 2004 with Signs Along the Snake, and again in 2006, for Dust in the Distance. The artist is represented by Overland Gallery of Fine Art, in Scottsdale, Arizona, where a one-man show is held for Grelle each March. The 2008 show marked Grelle’s 20th anniversary one-man show with the gallery.