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Merrill Mahaffey ENDURING LANDSCAPES


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Merrill Mahaffey Enduring Landscapes

December 29, 2017 - February 18, 2018

LewAllenGalleries Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | tel 505.988.3250 www.lewallengalleries.com | contact@lewallengalleries.com

cover: Rocky Way (detail), acrylic on canvas 30 x 40 in


Merrill Mahaffey Enduring Landscapes With a career spanning more than 50 years, Mahaffey creates art known for its valorization of the simple, time-chiseled details of Western America’s rocky terrain. Mahaffey’s paintings serve as modes of inquiry into the true nature of landscape, and the allegorical possibilities of their association with the myth of the American frontier. Avoiding the blandishments of saccharine sunsets, overly sentimental vistas and exaggerated skyscapes manifested in many romanticized Western landscapes, Mahaffey chooses as his subject the extraordinary within the ordinary: the simple, time-chiseled details of the land itself. His paintings capture the powerful sunlight, cascading geological formations, and breathtaking sense of timeless grandeur long associated with the landscape of Western America. His images feature the literal bedrock of the west and, metaphorically, the solidity and strength of the American character associated with it. His cascading rock faces, slowly carved by ancient rivers, reference the immensity of time, far beyond the scale of human history and imagination. His art displays a mastery of color and light, referencing the prevailing and eternal forces of nature, time, and the intense radiant light in the American West. His treatment of rocks is as though they are prisms; reflecting a rainbow-like array of hues as though through glass. Citing the abstract expressionists and color field painters as major influences, Mahaffey’s manner hints at an underlying abstraction. His art reflects an analytical eye with a clear interest in the nuances of geology and science; with it he searches for the abstract underlying structures and patterns that exist within the DNA of the land. “In his work is none of the easy iconography that typifies life in his part of the country. The facts of the condition in which he lives have proven sufficiently compelling to those who have bothered to look,” Harry Rand, former Curator at the National Museum of American Art in Washington DC writes. “Rather than the hokum of sharply raking dawns and sunsets, Mahaffey takes his cue from Manet." 2


Mahaffey was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1937, and received his arts education from the University of Arizona and the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of Arts). His paintings reside in the permanent collections of esteemed museum collections across the country, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Denver Art Museum.

above: Cliff Matching, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 in opposite: photo of the artist, courtesy of Rendezvous Royale 3


“The whole pace of life is going so fast. But when I go into the canyon, I get to drop back into geologic time, where the seasons matter and time moves slowly. These are the aspects I’m trying to communicate with my painting, rather than fashion or style.” Merrill Mahaffey, If Stones Could Speak, 1993

Silver Grotto Corner, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 17.5 x 26.25 in

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Amarillo, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 in

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Grey Reflection, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 in

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Reflection, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 46.25 x 68 in 7


“Presented as natural metaphors, these paintings have, at least, dual symbolic functions. Rocks age and fracture. I, the artist, study them like palm reading and try to isolate images denoting my interpretation of these rock palm prints. The life line is the nearest water.� Merrill Mahaffey, If Stones Could Speak, 2000

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Oak Canyon, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 in

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Winter Face, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 in

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Crossbed, 2000, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 84 in 11


Los Alamos Cliffs, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 46 x 64 in

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“Mahaffey has avoided the commercially remunerative game of being a westerner… In his work is none of the easy iconography featuring paraphernalia that—to the rest of the world, rightly or wrongly but mainly through movies— typifies life in his part of the country…Rather than the hokum of sharply raking dawns and sunsets, Mahaffey takes his cue from Manet.” Harry Rand, Senior Curator Cultural History, Smithsonian Institution "Merrill Mahaffey: Cue from Manet," 2000

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Sunrise Cliffs, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 38 x 56 in

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Rocky Way, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 in

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“Like Ralph Waldo Emmerson and painters of the Hudson River school such as Thomas Cole and Frederick Church, Mahaffey views the natural world as the expression of the creative power of the universe. His reverence for the land is balanced with a keen, analytic temperament.� Alan Petersen, Merrill Mahaffey: Interior Views of the West, 2008

Drylands, acrylic on canvas, 17.38 x 37.38 in

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Zoroaster Shoreline, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 22 x 30 in 18


Bear Creek, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16 in 19


Granite Wall, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 in

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Facing the Current, 1990-96, oil on canvas, 60 x 84 in 21


Rock of a Thousand Faces, 2012, ink on paper, 9 x 18 in

Rocks are the bones of the earth, water its lifeblood and the element which makes the earth livable for all others. Rock, just like organic matter, has its own slow-paced life as seen in the glaciers, streams, lakes, moraines and cliff fractures. My art asks that we try to understand the land as more than scenery.� Merrill Mahaffey, If Stones Could Speak, 1987

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Mineroads and Terracing, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 72 in 23


Los Alamos Cliffs II, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 46 x 64 in

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Sharp Cornered Schist, 2010, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in

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Deep Current, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 in 27


Merrill Mahaffey b. 1937, Albuquerque, NM EDUCATION 1966 MFA, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ 1959 BA, Sacramento State University, Sacramento, CA

2013 Landscapes of the West, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, AZ 2012 Landscapes of the West, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 4th Annual Small Works Show and Sale, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2011 Plein Air on the Rim, Kolb Studio, Grand Canyon, AZ The West Selects, Phoenix Art Museum, AZ 2009 Grand Canyon Modern Masters Invitational, Kolb Studio, Grand Canyon, AZ 2007 Arizona: A Millennium of Arizona Art, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, AZ 2000 Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA 1998 Mesa Southwest Museum, Mesa, AZ 1992 Chandler Fine Arts Center, Chandler, AZ 1991 Foothills Art Center- Golden, CO 1987 University of Utah Museum of Fine Art 1985 Museum of the American West, Houston, TX Art Institute of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX 1983 Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO 1982 Tucson Art Museum, Tucson, AZ 1981 Portland State University, Portland, OR Fresno Center for the Arts, Fresno, CA Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 1980-81 Artists of the Desert, Sierra Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV 1980 Arizona Bank Galleria, Heard Museum Benefit, Phoenix, AZ

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2017-18 Enduring Landscapes, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2008 Interior Landscapes of the West, A Fifty-Year Retrospective, Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, AZ 2001 Vanier Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ 2000 Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA 1999 Suzanne Brown Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 1998 Mesa Southwest Museum, Mesa, AZ Elinoff Gallery, Telluride, CO Charlene Cody Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 1994-98 Suzanne Brown Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 1992 Chandler Fine Arts Center, Chandler, AZ 1991-96 MacLaren/Markowitz Gallery, Boulder, CO 1991 Foothills Art Center, Golden, CO 1986 Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 1985 Art Inst. of Permean Basin, Odessa, TX Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, CO 1984 Museum of Western Art, Denver, CO Arvada Center for the Arts, Arvada, CA R.A.F.T. Exhibition, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale, AZ 1980 Watercolors, Frumkin-Struve, Chicago, IL 1979 Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale, AZ 1976 Valley Verde Artists, Jerome, ID 1975 Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction, CO 1974-75 Traveling exhibition; Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ; Western State College of Colorado, Gunnison, CO; Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction, CO SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2017 25th Anniversary Celebration, Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, AZ 2016 Evolving Visions of Land and Landscape, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO Grand Muse, Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, AZ

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Verde Winter, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 in


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Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | tel 505.988.3250 www.lewallengalleries.com | contact@lewallengalleries.com Š 2017 LewAllen Contemporary LLC Artwork Š Merrill Mahaffey

Merrill Mahaffey: Enduring Landscapes  
Merrill Mahaffey: Enduring Landscapes