James Edward Martin: Renowned painter and long-time Edmonds resident had a signature style

James Martin

Northwest painter James Edward Martin passed away on Dec. 15, 2020.

Born in Everett, WA, 1928, Jim was raised in Seattle. Jim’s pursuit of art was encouraged by Ballard High School art teacher Orre Nobles, who implored Jim’s parents to keep him enrolled. After studying at the UW, Jim’s paintings won the attention of gallery-owner Otto Seligman, who presented Jim’s work alongside Graves, Tobey, and Anderson. Jim’s work eventually transcended the muted parameters of the Northwest Mystics, blossoming into his signature, raucous style.

For the last 60 years Jim reveled in the absurdities of life at his Edmonds Way residence, the Donald Duck Ranch. He was shy, kind, generous and without guile; Jim was his own man. More on Jim’s life and work can be read in Sheila Farr’s superb monograph, “James Martin  Art Rustler at the Rivoli” (UW Press, 2001), or in her biography of Jim at historylink.org. Jim was predeceased by parents Wilfred and Isabel, sister Irene, and dear friends Helen Reynolds and Jessica Holliday.

Jim’s last couple years were enriched by his caregiver and new best-friend, Mike Ryan. He leaves behind friends Cort and Connie Vezzani, M.T. Peters, and a host of others. Jim is represented by the Foster/White Gallery; an exhibit of his paintings will be shown in January. A party to celebrate Jim’s life will be scheduled once the pandemic subsides. The Mystic Sons of Morris Graves, Seattle Lodge 93, mourn the loss of Bro’ Jim.

(My Edmonds News writer James Spangler profiled James Martin in 2018. You can read that piece here.)

  1. So sorry to hear about his passing. I stumbled upon him, and his work, through an article I read here, I think, and he seemed like a true original. His art was something else (and I mean that in the best possible way). So sorry I didn’t get to meet him in person.

    1. I’m sorry to read about his passing. I met him several times visiting Donald Duck ranch. I own 2 paintings and a collage. I absolutely loved his work. RIP.

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