Paintings adorned the walls of the Northumberland County Public Library on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 12, all signed with the name Bill Martz. Guests gathered around, gazing at the works of art, some looking for a potential purchase while others breathed in the “artist of the Northern Neck’s” final show.
Martz passed away in October of 2015. He spent 35 years painting landscapes, life, water, boats and wildlife of the Chesapeake Bay in a style known as “artistic realism.” His popularity in the Northern Neck is unprecedented and one is likely to find one of his works or prints in any given business or home.
Martz’s ability to interpret nature onto canvas touched many people throughout the region. He’s been honored by many organizations and groups, including the James Monroe Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution who’s President, Arthur T. Buswell, Jr., stated, “No single individual has done more to preserve Northern Neck history than Martz.”
Doc Dugan, owner of The Left Bank Gallery in Hague, said, “Other noteworthy artists have painted images of the Northern Neck, but none have been able to capture the pure, moving, reality of the images Bill recorded in his work.”
Former Director of Collections at the Hirshhorn Museum, Susan Lake, stated, “Bill’s love 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.”
In the middle of the show’s crowd stood Theresa Martz, Bill’s wife, who greeted each and every single guest that entered the room. “He loved the shows and that’s all he talked about the year he was dying was to have another show, which is why I’m having it,” she said. This was her first time putting a show together without Bill by her side.
Theresa described her late husband as very down to earth, without a pretentious bone in his body. She said he loved talking to people and getting to know the guests at each show. “I am so grateful that he was in my life and that I’ve had every minute with him that I had,” said Theresa.
Martz’s final works were sold by the minute. Visitors enjoyed light refreshments as they eyed each piece, as well as displays of Bill’s brushes and easels. Some of the guests in attendance had been at Martz’s very first show and now his last. Theresa smiled at the people around her and said, “Bill would loved to have been here.”