About this artist

The son of American missionary parents, Don Oelze was born in New Zealand in 1965 and lived there for the next nine years of his life. Despite those beginnings half a continent away, Oelze, who now lives in Montana, has been blessed with the ability to portray the history of the American West with a remarkably vivid and captivating reality. The explanation of this gift is simple: From early childhood, his mother and father had piqued their son’s curiosity about Western and Native American cultures by sharing stories of their own upbringings in Arizona and Montana. His maternal grandmother reinforced the young boy’s intrigue with Western lore by sending the imaginative 6-year old a handmade set of Indian clothing.

Oelze attended Memphis State University and Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1992.  He moved to Japan in 1995 and taught English. He met his wife Utako and lived there teaching and began to paint western since that was his passion. He started selling well at shows in the west and he and Utako decided to move to Montana. Oelze brings his work to life through private photo shoots. “I begin with a list of ideas I want to paint and then I hire the models, primarily Blackfeet, and have them reenact these poses.   After these photo shoots, I come back, sketch out my ideas and then start painting on canvas.”   Oelze holds an auction record at the Calgary Stampede of $135,000.  He also shows at numerous well-known Museum Shows across the United States.

CLICK HERE to read the article in the ART of the WEST 2017 MAY/JUNE ISSUE