Voice of a setting sun
Ed Mell, the great modernist painter of Arizona, will have a new solo show beginning February 21 at Mark Sublette’s Medicine Man Gallery in Tucson, Arizona. Influenced by Andrew Dasburg and Raymond Jonson, the artist is doing to Arizona what those artists did to New Mexico—he’s glorifying the state one brushstroke at a time.
New works in the show include Voice of a Setting Sun, a magnificent sunset image of distant mesas standing heroically under the glowing early-evening light, and Cholla Symmetry, one of his famous desert still lifes that features abstract forms and streamlined design of its forms and composition. In Canyon Bend, Mell turns his attention to a canyon stacked with millions of years of sedimentary layers as a river winds its way through, deepening the canyon with each passing day.
Mell has had a busy year already, with a stunning retrospective and receiving a lifetime achievement award, both in January at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona.
Don Hagerty, who wrote the main essay in the catalog for the retrospective, Ed Mell’s Southwest: Five Decades, offers an in-depth examination on the artist’s work and career.
“Lately Mell has resurrected the hardedged forms that defined his earlier work but with a liberated abstraction. Whereas many canvases are quiet and poetic, these abstract paintings boil with energy—the zig-zag of a lightning strike, solid shafts of rain, sunbeams that stream from clouds, warped shapes of canyon walls, and cubist blocks of dazzling colors,” Hagerty writes. “As Mell works on one of these paintings, form and color invent themselves as he travels to the edge of his personal vision. Landscape shapes, clouds and light are painted as geometric pieces, but not true abstractions since they do not dematerialize. They still retain a designed realism but absorb varying degrees of abstraction. The overall pattern on a canvas is one of energetic geometry, the lines and shapes suggestive of motion and varying moods of the plateau. The paintings seem like what the Navajo call shapeshifters, something that can transform into something else.”
The one-man show in Tucson opens February 21 with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m.
Deep Canyon Forms, oil, 20 x 20”
Canyon Bend, oil, 24 x 48”
Scattered Showers I, oil on linen, 12 x 14½”
Voice of a Setting Sun, oil, 15 x 30”