Obituary, published in the Brown County Democrat and the
Bloomington Herald Times newspapers (Indiana, USA) in April, 2011.
Karl Martz and Becky Brown, 1979.
Photo by Mazelle Kirkpatrick.
Becky Brown Martz, 96, Wife, Mother, Artist and Poet
Becky Brown1 began her life in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1914,
the daughter of a talented and hard working father2 who was a
bricklayer, bank manager and Red Cross assessor in various
states. By the late 1920's she and her family were living in
Bloomington, Indiana, where she went to high school, graduated
valedictorian and met her future husband, Karl Martz (shown in
photo with Becky, 1979). Her mother2 died in 1930, when Becky was
16. In 1935, after two years at IU, she dropped out of college
and married Karl. Their union lasted 62 years until Karl's death
in 1997. Karl was determined to be a potter, and at first they
lived in a series of romantic but rustic cabins in Brown County.
In 1936 they founded the Karl Martz Pottery. Before long Becky
began learning ceramic skills from her husband, initially
creating small vases and buttons for tourists. She also served as
an Artist's Representative at the Brown County Art Gallery in
Nashville. Her two sons were born in 1940 and 1942. Shortly after
her second son arrived the tourist traffic dried up due to
wartime gas rationing, and Karl found a job in industrial
research in Chicago. They lived in Jane Addams' Hull House, where
Becky raised the boys and ran the Hull House library. Her spare
moments found her frequenting museums and galleries. They
returned to southern Indiana two years later when Karl was hired
to create the ceramics program in the IU art department, later to
become the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts.
In 1949 they began building a house designed by Karl in Brown
County. It would house both the family and the Martz Pottery.
Around this time Becky's work began taking on its own character,
often quite different from Karl's, and in the early 1950's she
began creating whimsical animal sculptures in ceramics, possessed
of great charm and presence. From 1951 through 1981 her works
were exhibited in seventeen juried regional Indiana shows and in
galleries, including four shows at the John Herron/Indianapolis
Art Museum. In 1952 Karl took a semester's sabbatical in New York
City, and the family moved there with him, providing Becky an
opportunity to frequent some of the world's great museums and
In 1961 Becky and her family moved their residence and studio to
Bloomington. In 1969 Becky completed her A.B. in English at IU,
the same year her son Eric completed his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins.
She brought her cap and gown to his graduation in Maryland so
they could be photographed together in their academic regalia.
It's unclear who was proudest of whom. In 1961-62 and again in
1971-72 Becky accompanied Karl on sabbaticals in Japan, where she
worked in the Daisei Pottery, a traditional Mingei (folk art)
family pottery in Mashiko. From 1970-1975 she was a full partner
in The Gallery, located in Bloomington and founded by Rosemary
Fraser. From 1985-1991, her ability to work with clay hampered by
arthritis, she served as a docent in the Indiana University Art
Museum and returned to her first love, writing, producing a
series of poems of depth and power, two of which were published
in The Studio Potter and the newsletter of the IU Art Museum.
Becky loved life and took in all it had to offer, overcoming
difficulties with gritty determination and taking advantage of
whatever opportunities came her way as a woman in her time. She
was creative, loving and caring, loyal to family and friends,
hard working and was constantly learning and developing her
diverse talents. She was a superb wife and mother and an
inspiring role model for her sons as well as for the next
generation of female artists. In 2004 she left her beloved
Bloomington, Indiana, full of friends, achievements and memories,
and moved to Massachusetts to be close to her son Eric. She
passed away April 4, 2011, after a long decline with dementia,
donating her body to medical science in accord with her lifelong
She is survived by her son Eric and his wife Phyllis (Amherst,
Massachusetts), son Brian and his wife Dee (Stevens Point,
Wisconsin), her sister-in-law Betty Brown (Albuquerque, New
Mexico), five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and one
great-great grandchild. She was preceded in death by her brother
Edward. Becky's life, ceramics, and poetry are represented at the
website MartzPots.Org. Condolences to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Becky's full name was Margaret Rebekah Brown Martz. She was
named for her paternal grandmother (Margaret) and maternal
grandmother (Rebecca). As a teenager, Becky changed the spelling to Rebekah.
2. Becky's parents were Edward Stinson Brown, Sr., and Golden Glee Ragle