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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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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 Trailside Galleries:
Fred Fellows, b. Ponca City, Oklahoma, (United States)

Fred Fellows had early exposure to ranching and Otoe and Osage Indian reservations. As an artist, he is self-taught, but his skillful execution of western sculpture earned him membership and in 1997 presidency of the Cowboy Artists of America. Fred Fellows grew up in California where he worked as a cowboy and apprenticed for four years to a saddle maker. He also roped calves and steers on the rodeo circuit. Encouraged by his step father to apply his artistic talent for commercial illustration, he honed his art skills at Art Center School in Los Angeles and began a successful career in the aircraft industry, first working as a commercial artist and eventually becoming art director for Northrop Aircraft.

In 1964, he moved his family to Big Fork, Montana to devote himself to painting. His studio contains a serious collection of early Western guns, Plains Indian artifacts, cowboy gear, and a research library as a part of his study of Western history. Fred also has a firsthand knowledge of modern ranch life, spending his spare time roping on the big Montana cow outfits.

• Art Center School, Los Angeles, CA
Selected Exhibitions
• Cowboy Artist of America, 1969-Present
Selected Press
• Arizona Highway, Phoenix, AZ
• Western Horseman, (17 Cover Issues), Fort Worth, TX
• Newsweek, New York, NY
• Southwest Art, Broomfield, CO
• Artist of the Rockies
• Playboy, Chicago, IL
Selected Collections
• Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma
• Buffalo Bill Historical center, Cody, Wyoming
• Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
• Booth Museum of Western Art, Cartersville, Georgia
• Museum of Western Art, Kerrville, Texas
• Desert Caballeros Museum, Wickenburg, Arizona
• Montana Historical Society, Helena Montana
• McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana
• University of Texas, Midland, Texas
• Paniolo Monument, Waimea, Hawaii
• Ruger Corporation, Prescott, Arizona
• Cowboy Artists of America, Gold and Silver Medals
• Cowboy Artist of American Show, Artist Choice, 2007
• Academy of Western Artists, Western Artist of the Year, 2006
• Grumbacher Fine Arts Award
• Printing Institute of America Award
• Friends of Western Art, Artist of the Year, 2003.
• Cowboy Artists of America, Former President, Tucson, AZ, 1969-Present
• Friends of Western Art, Fellow, Tucson, AZ

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

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

Fred Fellows is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Western Painters

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