Ed Mell

Voice of a set­ting sun

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - ED MELL

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”

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