by Karl Martz, 1957
by Becky Brown
Karl Martz & Becky Brown
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Karl Martz (1912-1997) produced ceramic art from 1934 through the early 1990's. He founded the Ceramic Arts Program in the Department of Fine Arts at Indiana University (Bloomington) in 1945, where he taught studio ceramics and ceramic history until his retirement in 1977. While on sabbaticals, he worked in New York City (1952), Kyoto (1963) and Mashiko Japan (1971). Examples of his work are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Lisbon, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the IBM Corporation, the Minnesota Museum of Art in St. Paul, the Hall Collection at the University of Nebraska, and several museums in Indiana including the Indiana University Art Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Karl published numerous articles in Ceramics Monthly, and was a founding member, President (1965-6), and Fellow of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). In 1992, Karl was inducted as a Fellow of the American Craft Council. Some of his work has been auctioned on the Internet.

Karl's great talent and skill were matched by equally great humility. Those who knew him will remember his quiet, unassuming and down-to-earth manner. Although most of his work was in ceramics, Karl was also a talented illustrator and painter. As a teacher, he encouraged creativity and individuality, and was revered by many later-prominent students. In addition to being highly creative and working in many genres, he was a meticulous and technically-minded craftsman, loving tools and materials possessed of quality and beauty. Becky has observed that Karl enjoyed making tools as much as using them. Throughout his career, he was fascinated by glazes and glaze chemistry, constantly experimenting with glaze tests and often writing about his results. Karl never did high-quantity production pottery, preferring to craft unique, one-of-a-kind studio works.

Becky Brown (Margaret Rebekah Brown Martz, 1914-2011) produced ceramic art from the 1940's through the early 1980's, and subsequently wrote poetry. In 1936, Karl and Becky set up the Karl Martz Pottery in Nashville Indiana. In 1943, Becky studied design with Alma Eikerman at Indiana University. She apprenticed in ceramics with Karl in the 1940's and 50's. During the 1950's, she and Karl operated the Martz Studio in Brown County. Becky traveled extensively, visiting museums, collections, and potters in their studios in New York, Kyoto, Tokyo, and Mashiko Japan, Mexico, and Scandanavia. In 1972, she worked for six weeks in the Daisei family pottery in Mashiko, Japan. From 1970-1975 she was a partner in The Gallery of Bloomington, Indiana, founded by Rosemary Fraser. From 1985-1991 she was a Docent at the Indiana University Museum of Art. Becky originated a series of handbuilt animal sculptures possessed of charm, dignity, and whimsey, her most distinctive works, beginning in the 1950's and continuing through the early 1980's.

Becky's work is in the collections of the following Indiana art enthusiasts: Thelma Battersby, Theodore Bowie, Pegram Harrison and Lawrence Clopper, Georgia and Larry Davis, Robert Dunn, Dean and Rosemary Fraser, Mary Gaither, Eric Koch, Lois Heiser and Julie Nilson, Onya LaTour McCann, Tennis and Mary Mahoney, Thomas and Ginny Marsh, and Hanus Grosz. She also has work in the collection of Thomas Turnquist of Englewood, Colorado, and Virginia Moore of Hoopestin, Illinois. Becky's work was carried at The Gallery (Bloomington, Indiana), the Alliance Museum Shop (Indianapolis Museum of Art), Fort Wayne Museum of Art Gift Shop, and the Haynie-Helm Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky. Some of her work has been auctioned on the Internet.
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Karl and Becky were married in 1935 and shared 62 years together. This website was created in their honor, in early 2001, by their son Eric, to serve a source of information for family, friends, and those who own their pots. If you have a pot about which you are curious, you are invited to send photos, including one of the bottom (showing the signature), to Eric for comment:

Karl and Becky in the Brown County State Park, about 1950.

Brian, Becky, and Eric Martz in July 2002.
Painting is of Karl ca. 1938 by Edwin Fulwider.

Photograph by Brian Martz.