Julio Martinez is a Software Developer by day, and carving enthusiast by night. He came to the United States from Guatemala as a foreign exchange student in high school, stayed in the USA to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and now lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife and son.
Julio’s artistic efforts gained early recognition when he was commissioned by his Nebraska high school to paint a mural on the gym wall while still a student. Pen and ink caricature-style line drawings and pointillism portraits comprise the bulk of his early work, with his carving experience limited to whittling faces in bark with a pen knife while camping with his foreign exchange host family.
Joining the Cedar Valley Woodcarvers was a turning point in Julio’s artistic journey. Welcoming any skill or experience level, they embraced his novice enthusiasm and started him on his carving path by awarding him a scholarship for a woodcarving class and generously sharing tools, advice, and encouragement.
This early support ignited a passion for woodcarving that led to the creation of many award winning pieces, including Julio’s signature life-sized mouse carvings, birds and miniature carvings that have been featured in, and on the cover of, industry magazines.
His most recent accolades include: Third best of show in the woodcarving division at the 2022 Iowa State Fair for his “Santa Mouse”, Best of Show recognition at the 2022 International Woodcarvers Congress for his “Christmas Snow Goose”, and Best of Show at the 2023 Cedar Valley Woodcarvers Art of Woodcarving and Turning for his “Teddy Bear Cub”.
Most of Julio’s pieces are inspired by animals, though one of his more memorable pieces, “The Hexenbiest” was inspired by the damage caused by the Derecho storm of 2020 that devastated the city of Cedar Rapids. It was created as an entry for DKW Gallery’s “Nightmare on 7th Avenue” event in Marion, IA, where it was awarded Best of Show and Peoples’ Choice.