James Martin papers, circa 1930s-2000s  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Martin, James, 1928-
James Martin papers
circa 1930s-2000s (inclusive)
2.6 cubic feet (5 boxes plus 1 oversize folder)
Collection Number
Correspondence, art exhibition and sale records, gallery announcements and catalogs, clippings, writings, and other papers related to the career James Martin, an artist based in Edmonds, Washington
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Artist James Martin, a nationally-acclaimed painter renowned for his whimsical style, was born on April 7, 1928 in Everett, Washington, to parents Isabel Laughton and Wilfred Scott Martin. He had one older sister, Irene. When Martin was a child, his family moved to the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, where he attended Washington Irving Elementary School, James Monroe Junior High School, and Ballard High School. During his sophomore year of high school, Martin dropped out and began work as an apprentice mechanic at William O. McKay Ford. Yet one of his teachers, Orre Nelson Nobles, recognized Martin’s creative potential and convinced his parents to send him back to school. Martin returned to take art classes from Nobles, and became so devoted to the subject that he set up his own art studio in the basement of his home. However, he soon dropped out again and began work at an auto wrecking yard.

Martin eventually completed his high school degree at the YMCA in 1948, when he was twenty years old. He then enrolled at the University of Washington, where he intended to earn a degree in engineering or architecture. Neither field suited him, however, and he instead pursued classes in art and creative writing. Martin earned his Bachelor of Arts in English in 1953.

Following his graduation, Martin struggled to find work as a writer. He took a job as a patternmaker at Boeing, but did not stay in that job for long. He then began work as an art framer at Frederick & Nelson, where he began to make professional connections with art dealers and other artists. Throughout this time, Martin continued to create his own artwork, much of which was selected for exhibition in museums and galleries in Seattle. His work also caught the attention of art dealer Otto Seligman, who began to represent Martin. Martin’s first show was at the Seligman Gallery in Seattle’s University District in January 1958, and was well-received and garnered excellent reviews.

After Seligman’s death, Martin had one last show with that gallery, which had been taken over by Francine Seders. He then exhibited at Windsor Utley’s gallery before moving first to the Gordon Woodside Gallery in the 1970s and, finally, to the Foster/White Gallery in the 1980s. Martin’s work, which he creates at his studio in Edmonds called the Donald Duck Ranch, continues to be widely sought-after. A book on his life and career, James Martin: Art Rustler at the Rivoli by Sheila Farr, was published by the University of Washington Press in 2000.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, art exhibition and sale records, gallery announcements and catalogs, clippings, writings, and other papers related to James Martin's career.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights have been transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 5260-001: James Martin papers, 1961-2001Return to Top

0.87 cubic feet (2 boxes plus 1 oversize folder)

Scope and Content: The bulk of the Martin papers centers around his artistic career. Included are correspondence with art galleries and financial records tracking the sales and exhibitions of his paintings. The papers also contain photographs, gallery announcements, artist catalogs, gallery catalogs, and newspaper clippings about his work. Also included is a small selection of writings, notes, and personal correspondence with artists such as Morris Graves and his friend and mentor, Orre Nelson Nobles.

Arrangement: Arranged in fifteen series.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: James Martin, 2001

Container(s) Description Dates
Incoming letters
Box/Folder Accession
1/1 5260-001
The Fountain Gallery of Art
1966-1985, undated
1/2 5260-001
Gordon Woodside Gallery
Scope and Content: The later letters are from the Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Galleries, Seattle.
1975-1985, undated
1/3 5260-001
Graves, Morris
1/4 5260-001
Mayo, Rae
1975, undated
1/5-6 5260-001
Nobles, Orre Nelson
Scope and Content: Includes photographs of Orre Nelson Nobles, his family, and his South King Street, Seattle, house "Breezy Bluff," as well as stationery featuring Noble's drawings.
1961-1967, undated
1/7 5260-001
Otto Seligman Gallery
1966-1968, undated
1/8 5260-001
University of Washington, Henry Art Gallery
1/9-10 5260-001
1962-2000, undated
Box/Folder Accession
1/11 5260-001
Outgoing letters
Financial records
Scope and Content: Includes inventories of the galleries, consignment receipts, sales receipts, a release, and a consignment contract.
Box/Folder Accession
1/12-14 5260-001
Fountain Gallery of Art
1967-1985, undated
1/15 5260-001
Gordon Woodside Gallery
1972-1985, undated
1/16 5260-001
Maxwell Galleries
1/17 5260-001
Otto Seligman Gallery
1964-1968, undated
1/18 5260-001
Utley's Art Galleries
1/19 5260-001
1966, 1971, undated
Account books
Box/Folder Accession
½0 5260-001
Fountain Gallery of Art
½1 5260-001
Gordon Woodside Gallery
½2 5260-001
Utley's Art Galleries
Box/Folder Accession
2/1 5260-001
Scope and Content: Includes a watercolor on tablet paper.
2/2 5260-001
Artwork -- Christmas card by Neil Meitzler
Artist catalogs
Box/Folder Accession
2/3 5260-001
Anderson, Guy
2/3 5260-001
Graves, Morris
Scope and Content: Annotated. Includes a 1992 letter from Vonnie Cowan.
[1966?], 1992
2/3 5260-001
Steensma, John Jay
Box/Folder Accession
2/4 5260-001
Gallery catalogs
2/5 5260-001
Scope and Content: One photograph of Orre Nobles; two photographs of unidentified individuals.
1976, undated
2/6 5260-001
Subject file -- Reynolds, Helen
Box/Folder Accession
2/7 5260-001
2/8 5260-001
Box/Folder Accession
2/9 5260-001
2/10 5260-001
James Martin: Art Rustler at the Rivoli, (La Conner, Washington: Museum of Northwest Art and University of Washington Press)
Farr, Sheila
Scope and Content: Book.
2/11 5260-001
Oversize VF 73 5260-001

Accession No. 5260-002: James Martin papers, 1930s-2000sReturn to Top

1.73 cubic feet (3 boxes)

Scope and Content: Incoming correspondence to James Martin from gallery owners, collectors, artists, and friends; writings by Martin; clippings, brochures, and other exhibit publicity materials; and other materials related to James Martin's career.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: James Martin, 2007-04-06

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Accession
1-2 5260-002
2 5260-002
Short stories by James Martin
2 5260-002
Report cards and student records (photocopies)
2 5260-002
Exhibit publicity
2 5260-002
Exhibit catalogs
2 5260-002
Foster/White Gallery exhibition review
2 5260-002
Articles and clippings
2 5260-002
Muse magazine with Martin's work
2 5260-002
Orre Nelson Nobles biography
2 5260-002
Jay Steensma exhibit publicity
2 5260-002
2001, undated
2 5260-002
Photographs and sketches
3 5260-002
Restaurant menu covers featuring artwork by Martin
3 5260-002
1999, 2007
3 5260-002
Magazine articles
3 5260-002

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Art galleries, Commercial--Oregon--Portland
  • Art galleries, Commercial--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Art, American--20th century
  • Artists--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Northwest school of artists
  • Personal Names :
  • Martin, James, 1928- --Archives
  • Martin, James, 1928- --Exhibitions
  • Nobles, Orre Nelson, 1894-1967
  • Corporate Names :
  • Fountain Gallery of Art
  • Gordon Woodside Gallery (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Galleries (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Otto Seligman Gallery (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Utley's Art Galleries (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
  • correspondence
  • exhibition catalogs
  • financial records
  • Photographs

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)