Martin Miglioretti, an award-winning artist and a beloved artistic contributor to Houston’s live music scene for decades, died Saturday of a heart attack at his home. He was 58.
Miglioretti fused two of his great loves — cars and music — with his craft. He created brilliantly detailed and realistic acrylic paintings of classic vehicles that reflected his study of the photorealist movement. His digital portraits of blues players — including Lightnin’ Hopkins, Leadbelly, Joe “Guitar” Hughes and Pete Mayes — were less refined but every bit as striking, often presenting the player in images that hearkened old concert posters, two-toned in shadow with stirring touches of color. Last August the Heritage Society hosted a show featuring 18 of the portraits. “In the world of blues, Texas is king, and Houston is the jewel on the crown,” he told Texas Monthly last year. He was a founding member of the Houston Blues Society, and designed the organization’s logo. He also created posters and album covers for numerous musicians around town for more than 30 years.
“We used that logo on the first t-shirts we made and that gave us the seed money to start the Blues Society,” says musician Sonny Boy Terry. “He loved roots music and knew its deep history. And he did so much free work for the scene and for the Blues Society. Back then there were great players but no industry. A lot of times to have a guy like that to bring some professionalism to the scene, it helps you build something better.”
Added Quinn Bishop, owner of Cactus Music, which exhibited and sold Miglioretti’s work, “He was so gracious and giving. He did a lot of work that helped musicians who wouldn’t have been able to afford that work otherwise.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Miglioretti moved to Houston in the late 1970s. “He fell in love with Houston and stayed here,” said friend and fellow artist Carlos Hernandez. “He was a jack of all trades. He was a great guitar player, a great painter, a great graphic designer, well involved in the Art Director’s Club. He was also just a great supporter of everybody. Writers, artists, musicians. He was a guy you could always count on for encouragement.”
Miglioretti worked in advertising for more than 25 years. His work with the Art Director’s Club earned him an Addy, a Houston Advertising Award in 1997. His work showed at galleries and car shows around town. Prints of his blues portraits have for several years been available for purchase at Cactus Music, which once hosted a show of his work.
A convocation will be held for Miglioretti and musician/physician Dr. Richard Patt (aka Dr. Rick), who died of cancer on Sunday, at the Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club, the Houston Blues Haven, at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.