Bill Martz is an artist of the people, who for 37 years painted the landscapes, life, water, boats, wildlife and people of his part of the Chesapeake Bay.
Stacks of letters give testament to the fact that his work reflects the heart and soul of the Bay area. He captured the hearts of its people as they captured his.
As the Northern Neck along with the rest of the Chesapeake Bay area continues to slowly run the risk of losing its cultural identity and charm, Bill’s sense of urgency increases to get out each day and preserve on canvas this land and water that he loves. He paints the moods and the rhythms of the Northern Neck and brings to life the area’s sense of place.
He calls his style of painting “artistic realism”. His paintings are “arty” (or impressionistic) enough to know it is art and real enough to bring an emotional response if your heart is tied to the Northern Neck or any part of the Bay area.
“Bill Martz is best known as the artist of the Northern Neck” says the Northern Neck News.
“—his talent has brought forth (paintings) that replicate what everyone in the Northern Neck who lives here or has moved here wants to be a part of, to know, and take unto themselves.” says Ruth Herrink, publisher of the The Journal Newspaper.
“Shivering in shore bushes to capture ducks, or tonging with oystermen to learn the weight of their work, Martz sensed the rhythms of the Northern Neck and drew accurately from life” notes the Rappahannock Record referring to his book, The Northern Neck Illustrated Journal.
“The beauty of the Chesapeake Bay area, its marshes, the rivers, and the wildlife are brought to life in Martz’ oils.”
This website will give you an overview of his work.
Bill died October 3, 2015.
He was honored posthumously by the James Monroe Sons of the American Revolution in May 2016 and was credited with doing more to preserve Northern Neck history than any other single person.
Over the years Bill’s goal as an artist (in addition to earning a living) was to be the best he could be and continually improve his artistic ability. He did that.
A year after his death and just before the last Bill Martz show in November of 2016,that accomplishment was recognized by the former Director of Collections at the Hirshhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.
When she visited me she talked at length about Bill’s ability, calling him an artist of quality. What impressed her most, she told me, was his continual improvement over the years. She mentioned that many artist’s that are now dead and famous, plateaued at a certain level and stayed there. But, she said, it was so obvious to her that Bill continually improved.
Shortly after that she wrote:
The Northern Neck is very fortunate to have had an artist of Bill Martz’s quality.
His paintings aptly capture the natural beauty and culture of this extraordinary area.
Bill’s love of and devotion to the rural lifestyle of the Chesapeake Bay area is fluidly and confidently memorialized in his closely observed scenes of the area’s fishermen, natural light, fowl, and fauna.
Director of Collections, Emeritus