A first-of-its-kind exhibition of famed Arizona artist Ed Mell’s work will open at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum on Dec. 21.

“Ed Mell’s Southwest: Five Decades” is a retrospective of Mell’s 50-year career. Born in 1942, Mell grew up in what was then the small Western city of Phoenix. He attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and subsequently relocated to New York as an art director for a large advertising agency.

Seeking to escape the confines of advertising, Mell opened an illustration studio and became a national success. He returned to Arizona in 1970 and reconnected with his home state, where he began creating the landscape paintings for which he is well-known.

Mell’s work brings an architectural eye to the desert, emphasizing graphic elements and streamlining details to serve his vision. From landscapes to storms, longhorn cattle to desert flowers, he presents the American Southwest in bold colors and lines, energizing the vistas with his singular style. “Ed Mell’s command of subjects both large and small with an angularity of style, and his ability to excel in multiple venues and media, makes him incomparable,” says DCWM Executive Director Dan Finley. “He is, without a doubt, one of our state’s foremost living artists.”

In addition to oil, Mell has worked in bronze and print-making. His work has found homes in many private collections, including those of Tri-Star Pictures, Diane Keaton, and Arnold Schwartzenegger, as well as the public art collections of Glendale and Scottsdale, and he has exhibited in museums across the United States. In Arizona, his work can be found in the collections of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Tucson Museum of Art, and the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.

Museum members are invited to an exhibition preview and opening reception on Friday, Dec. 20 from 5:30 - 7 p.m. in the museum galleries. The artist will be in attendance. Members are asked to RSVP to (928) 684-2272.

“Ed Mell’s Southwest” will remain on view through March 8. Admission to the exhibition is included with regular museum admission, which is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors (60-plus) and AAA members; and free for children 17-and-under, museum members, and active duty military.

Holiday hours: The Desert Caballeros Western Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, and New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. The museum will be closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.

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