Western Art Collector

The Sonoran King


All month long I’ve been talking to people about the great Arizona painter Ed Mell, and it’s remarkable to see and hear the outpouring of love that has been directed at the artist, who died February 21. As word of his passing spread, the news was picked up by newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations all around Arizona, and then even nationally as other outlets paid tribute to the Phoenix-based artist. Even people who had only a passing interest in art were aware of Ed—either because of his modernist paintings, or his monument in the center of Scottsdale, or his work on album covers, or his illustrati­on.

Western Art Collector has had a long relationsh­ip with Ed, who appeared in our seventh issue and then basically never left as we covered him even up to his last show earlier this year. I was introduced to him by our first editor, Josh Rose, who would always bring the artist by our Scottsdale offices. Mell would grab a chair and hold court with our design and editorial teams as he talked about what he was working on or new adventures he was taking in the art world. He was always so gracious with his time and he always thanked everyone for putting him in the magazine—and we had to counter, “Ed, thank you for making us look so good.” Anytime we needed a photo or interview, he threw his doors open. He loved sharing his studio.

I wrote many of our articles on him over the last 10 years, and it was always so much fun to chat with him, although it was difficult because he didn’t like to talk about his work. He felt the paintings spoke for themselves, so what could he add that wasn’t already there? His calls almost always started the same way, “Hey, man…” He was the epitome of the chill artist.

Following the death of his son, Ed painted a work titled Sonoran Kings in 2019. The picture had two saguaro cacti standing resilientl­y amid a gorgeous sunset. The work is pure Ed Mell—saturated color, angular forms, simplified shapes, Arizona through and through. He said the two subjects represente­d him and his son standing in the warmth of the sun. I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece lately. About our Sonoran King, Ed Mell. He will be greatly missed.

 ?? ?? Michael Clawson
Michael Clawson
 ?? ?? Ed Mell (1942-2024), Sonoran Kings, oil on linen, 40 x 30”
Ed Mell (1942-2024), Sonoran Kings, oil on linen, 40 x 30”

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