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 Fred Fellows  (1934 - )

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Lived/Active: Arizona/California/Oklahoma      Known for: realist western, cowboy genre sculpture and painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Fred Fellows
1934 (Ponca City, Oklahoma)

Often Known For
realist western, cowboy genre sculpture and painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Living in Sonoita, Arizona, Fred Fellows is a painter and sculptor who works in realist style.  He was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma, where he was influenced by the cultures of the Otoe and Osage Indians, whose reservations were nearby.  

Although Fellows, as a youth, moved to California and attended high school in Los Angeles, he continued his interest in 'things western' including competing in rodeos, working as a saddle maker in Paramount, California for Butler Sadlery, and being a cowboy at Monolith, California on the Jamison Ranch. 

This period of his life was followed by serving as Art Director for Northrup Aircraft, which honed his composition skills for the realist style of western subject painting and sculpture that became his signature work.  However, during this time, he experimented with abstract art as he spent many evenings for seven years meeting with a group of artists who, working in this style, did drawing together and had shows in coffee houses.  However, questioning "how anyone can understand something that is totally private to the artist" (Samuels, 180), he turned to realism and to the western subjects of his heritage.

In 1968, Fred Fellows was voted into membership of the Cowboy Artists of America*, a group founded in Arizona of western artists dedicated to the traditional style and western subject matter of Charles Russell and Frederic Remington.  In 1997, he served as President of the CAA.  He has won numerous awards at the groups' annual exhibitions including Artists Choice, 2007; Oil Painting Award, Silver, 1988; Sculpture Award, Gold Medal, 1995 and 1991; Drawing and Other Media, Silver, 1989; Drawing Award, Silver, 1977; Kieckhefer Award*: Best of Show, 1991; and CAA Memorial Award, 1975.

His western painting and sculptures have been featured in many magazines, and selected for world-wide advertising by Philip Morris, Inc.  In 1981, his artwork was included in the first American art exhibit in mainland China.

Fred Fellows has lived with his wife, Deborah, also a sculptor, and their daughter at Woods Bay Point on Flathead Lake at Bigfork, Montana, and the family later moved to Sonoita, Arizona.

* For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary

Peggy and Harold Samuels, Contemporary Western Artists
Phoenix Art Museum, Catalogue; Cowboy Artists of America, 44th Annual Exhibition, 2009
Artist Files of the Phoenix Art Museum Library
Wolf Schneider, "My World: A Visit with Fred Fellows and Deborah Copenhaver-Fellows", Southwest Art, March 2006

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, II:

Ponca City, Oklahoma 1935

Traditional Western painter, sculptor

Fred Fellows grew up in California where he worked as a cowboy and was apprenticed for four years to a saddlemaker.  He also roped calves and steers on the rodeo circuit. Without formal art training, he spent 10 years as a commercial artist and as an art director. 

In 1964, he moved his family to Big Fork, Montana to devote himself to painting. There his studio contained an exensive collection of early Western guns, Plains Indian artifacts, cowboy gear, and a research library as a part of his study of Western history.

Fellows also has a firsthand knowledge of modern ranch life.  He spends much of his spare time roping on the big Montana cow outfits.  In his painting and sculpture, he specializes in cowboys, Indians, and the West.  He is said to consider color and draftsmanship the keys to painting.  Of his work, he says: “Certainly the development of technique and style of painting is most important to me, but I find that I paint to please myself.”

Peggy and Harold Samuels,  The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, 1985, Castle Publishing

Biography from Trailside Galleries:
Fred Fellows is a two-time past president of the Cowboy Artists of America organization.  His paintings and sculptures have been featured in many magazines  including Arizona Highway, Western Horseman, Newsweek, Southwest Art, Artist of the Rockies and Playboy.  His work has won many awards including Grumbacher Fine Arts Award and the Printing Institute of America Award.

Fellows is one of the few artists that has won Gold and Silver Medals in both painting and sculpture at the annual Cowboy Artists of America exhibit in the Phoenix Art Museum.  One of his Gold Medal sculptures recently won the purchase prize to go into the permanent collection of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.

He is currently (2003) working on a monument for the big island of Hawaii.  He lives with his artist wife, Deborah, on their Adobe Walls Ranch north of Sonoita, Arizona.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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