Martha Hartman, Sarasota. Lady with a Shell, oil on board 12 1/2 by 18 inches. Signed lower left, Martha Hartman. Printed on back, Lady with a Shell.

Martha Hartman is best known for her founding, in 1953, Sarasota’s famed Petticoat Painters, the oldest continuously exhibiting women’s art group in the United States. Born in Alabama, Hartman (nee Dye) was an infant when her family moved to Orlando in 1923. With an early love of art, Martha Dye, in the 9th grade at Cherokee Junior High, won first honors for her poster. At a May 1937 PTA banquet she was named, “Star Artist.” At Orlando High School, as a student in the Sketch Club, Dye won a prize for her work submitted at the annual Mid-Winter Festival. Dye worked for the Army Air Corp during World War II, saving her money to attend the Ringling School of Art. She moved to Bradenton in 1945 to study at the Ringling. Here Dye met her husband, William Hartman; they were married in Orlando in June 1946.  In 1949, when Hartman won her first, first place award, at a Sarasota Art Association exhibit, the male jurors decided to award her a certificate instead of a promised check. Needing to feed a growing family, Hartman was furious. Two years later, in 1951, she and her husband started the Hartman School of Art; one of their first exhibits featured only women artists. Martha Hartman’s remarkable career in art continued for the next fifty years: winning recognition and awards in Florida, holding one-man exhibits in Michigan, the Parthenon Art Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee and many exhibits as a couple with her husband. Her last exhibits in Sarasota garnered a series of awards at the Longboat Key Art Center. In November 1987, at an Art League of Manatee County exhibit, The Women’s Caucus for Art’s “Black and White,” she was still campaigning for women’s art with an award-winning acrylic collage titled Sing Not for Me, showing women’s heads in the foreground and a disturbing male face in the back.

The Petticoat Painters pictured above in 1958. Standing rear left to right, Elsinore Budd, July Axe, Margaret Sturgis, seated left to right Helen Protas, Stella Coler, Bebe Hamel, Marty Hartman, Jane Ziegler. The group holds the distinction of being the longest continuously exhibiting women’s art group in the country.

Born: May 11, 1922, Alabama. Died: February 9, 2017, Sarasota. Education: Ringling School of Art. Membership: Sarasota Art Association; Florida Artists Group; Art League of Manatee County, 1952-56; Florida Federation of Art. Exhibits: Gallery On The Circle, St. Armands Key, March 1953; Kane Furniture Company, Sarasota, Marc 1953; Clearwater Art Group, 5th annual, March 1954, 1st prize, Beaux Arts Ball; Art League of Manatee County, All Members Exhibit, October 1955, 209 Ninth St. W. Bradenton, oil, Pals; Florida Artists Group, 5th Annual, Clearwater, 1955, 1st prize, lithography; Florida State Fair, Fine Arts Exhibit, January 29-February 9, 1957, The Day After; Art Jamboree and Exhibit, Gainesville Association of Fine Arts, January 1958, with William Hartman, oil paintings, watercolors and casein; Manatee County Art Center, February 1958; Hidden Garden Gallery, Winter Park, February 1958, sponsored by Artists’ League of Orange County, ten paintings by Marth Hartman and ten watercolors by William Hartman, the paintings previously exhibited at Stetson University and the University of Florida, Florida State University, included by Martha, Family Night at Bay Haven, Beaux Arts-1957, All My Children and Meanwhile Back at the Ranch; Governor’s All Florida Art Show, Ringling Museum, January 9-February 2, 1960, oil, Birds of Prey; Sarasota Art Association, Members’ Annual Juried Exhibition, February 1960, Love and Marriage; Florida State Fair, Tampa, exhibited between, 1956-1962; Art League of Manatee County, Annual Juried Show, February 1965, honorable mention, professional for Nefer-Neffer; Clearwater Art Group, with William Hartman, December 1966, collages including, Nefer-Neffer and The Players; Clearwater Art Group Gallery, with husband William Hartman, Clearwater auditorium, March 1981, oils including Frolic and Pet Show at the County Fair; Sarasota Art Association, Real and Imaginary People and Animal Show, March 1983, 3rd prize; Sarasota Art Association, February 1984, Garden of Kama; Longboat Key Art Center, 40th Anniversary Exhibit, March 1992, 2nd prize for acrylic, The Movies-Golden Oldies; Longboat Key Art Center, 3rd Annual Town of Longboat Key Exhibit, March 1994, 2nd prize, for Requiem to a Knight; Longboat Key Art Center, January 1995, 2nd prize for acrylic/collage, Aqua Vitae.


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