Mel Gerhold

1928, Baltimore, Maryland – 2015, Buffalo, WY

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Mel Gerhold was born on May 14, 1928 in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from the Maryland Institute, now Maryland Institute College of Art, in 1955 after a 16-month hiatus during the Korean War. At the Maryland Institute, he studied under Jacques Maroger, formerly of the Louvre in Paris, France. Mel started painting full time in 1949 and also taught private art classes in Frederick, Maryland.

In order to be closer to the focus of his work, in 1971 he and his wife Doris moved to the Crawford, Nebraska area in the northwest part of the state where they lived for the next 25 years, eventually purchasing a ranch. His passion was the early American West with the working cowboy and the Native American Indian as his subjects. In 1997, the couple moved to Buffalo, Wyoming.

His artworks are mostly in oil, but he also sculpted and did drawings in both pencil and pen and ink. He generally did not work from photographs, except on rare occasions when it was necessary for reference, because he did not want to be influenced by a photographic image. He preferred to depend on his art ability and knowledge of the subject matter, making him, he felt, distinct from other artists. Mel painted for himself, although he occasionally accepted specific commissions. He paid special attention to authentic details, such as dress, equipment, and rigging.

His art received many awards throughout the country. One award he was proud of is the Artist Choice Award at the Spirit of the Great Plains exhibition in 1998 at the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) in Kearney, Nebraska. His work is in many public and private collections in the United States and abroad including the Sangre de Christo Museum of Pueblo, Colorado; Ameritas Insurance Company, Lincoln, Nebraska; and the U.S. National Park Visitors Center, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, near Harrison, Nebraska. Images of his work have also appeared in various publications such as Art of the West, Western Horseman, Wild West, and American Civil War magazines, and Leanin’ Tree cards and calendars.

Mel Gerhold died at age 87 in Buffalo, Wyoming on June 10, 2015.

The Museum of Nebraska Art has 3 works by Mel Gerhold.

updated 2019

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Mel Gerhold, It's A Start, oil on board, n.d.