Friday, March 18, 2011

Lost Painting of Northwest Historical Artist Found

When my sweet Sis Clytie called to say she had found an original painting by our Great Aunt Martina, I was in awe.  The above painting by noted Northwest artist Martina Gangle Curl was found in a box of our Grandmother's papers--which would have been destroyed that very day.  Grammie was Martina's younger sister. 

Great Aunt Martina was an amazing lady.  In 1931, after years of following the harvest picking crops with her family, working as an art teacher and then managing a boarding house, she enrolled in the Museum Art School in Portland, Oregon.  There she studied under legendary painter and art instructor Harry Wentz.  This lost painting has the date 1932 inscribed on the back, around the time Aunt Martina was exhibiting artwork at the Portland museum between 1932 and 1933.

You can see Aunt Martina's distinctive artistic style in the piece above, entitled Prune PickerFascinated by migrant labor families and shipyard workers, she had a special love for the common man. 

It has been said Aunt Martina's attention to women and children conveyed a desire to “mother” humanity.  This is illustrated by one of my all-time favorites--the painting above entitled Clinic which was rediscovered at Oregon State Hospital in the late 1990's. 

Through her artwork, Aunt Martina succeeded in dramatizing the beauty and aesthetic diversity to be found in the everyday settings of people living throughout the Pacific Northwest in those hard years.
I wish I would have known she was an artist--I would have loved to talk to her about her life and how she saw the world--about what it was like growing up in those times.  She was not only a gifted artist, but was a wonderful person who deeply loved her family.  I wish I could tell her how proud I am to be her great niece and how much I treasure those moments when she would lean over my drawings with a smile and an encouraging word. 

You can find restrikes of fourteen works of art by Aunt Martina for sale, at The Pathways Collection.  To read more about Martina Gangle Curl's fascinating life, visit The Oregon Encyclopedia and the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission


Clytie said...

I too wish I had known Martina in her younger years ... or at least known more about her!

Someday I'll pull out the only picture I have of her at my wedding - Martina and Aggie having a heated discussion ... probably about politics or religion.

I am so glad to have found and rescued this treasure for our family.

Melinda said...

very cool!

Tammie said...

so wonderful that Clytie found this painting. I love her style! It is wonderful, powerful and full of life! So many artists in your family!

Julia Christie said...

very interesting Beth! I will look forward to reading more about her!