Born & raised in Clifton, Texas, Martin Grelle and his wife, Joyce, still live 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, just a short distance from his home, but also within a few miles of the family & friends who are so important in his life. He has two sons, Josh & Jordan, who have left home to pursue their own dreams, but who stay in touch frequently. Grelle’s parents, Ervin & Ella, have both passed from this life, but he still has his brothers, Carl & Marvin, living nearby, as well as his sister, Mary, who lives in Ft. Worth. Joyce’s 3 sons, Zach, Emitt & Carl, and their families are also close, and visit the ranch often.
Grelle began drawing & painting when he was very young, and was fortunate to have James Boren & 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, and it has had a lasting impact on his direction & 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 44 years since that time, he has produced some 30 one-man exhibitions, including annual shows at Overland Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona from 1989 through 2014, and has won awards of both regional & national importance at shows around the country. Grelle was invited into membership with the Cowboy Artists of America in 1995, fulfilling a dream that began in the early 70’s when he first met Boren & Warren. 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, and was presented the Spirit of the West Award by the San Dimas Festival of Arts in April of 2016. Other major invitational exhibitions & sales Martin has participated in include The Masters at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles, and the Quest for the West at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, the Coeur d’Alene Auction, and the Jackson Hole Art Auction.
Grelle has also been featured in a number of publications throughout his career, including multiple appearances in ART OF THE WEST and WESTERN ART COLLECTOR magazines, SOUTHWEST ART, WESTERN ART & ARCHITECTURE, PERSIMMON HILL, AMERICAN COWBOY, WESTERN HORSEMAN, INFORMART, WILD WEST, & was listed in TRUE WEST magazine’s 2011 Best of the West Source Book. 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.
Martin Grelle has a real sense of responsibility to his collectors, which fills his heart every morning when he walks into the studio, believing that what he does is a gift entrusted to him from God, and must not be left unused or taken for granted, but developed and improved upon. His parents, and Jim & Mary Ellen Boren, all set that example for him – an example of not only striving to be the best artist he can be, but the best man he can be as well.
Beyond his studio, Grelle strives to pass on what others have passed to him. He has given multiple demonstrations around the country, teaches an annual weekend workshop along with his good friend, and fellow CA, Bruce Greene – which they have done for 24 years straight - 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.
Grelle has twice served on the board of directors for the CA organization, serving as President for 2014, and as Chairman of CAA 50th Anniversary Events during 2015. 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 on the Board of Directors for the past several years, and as President during 2014-2015.