Ed Mell

Ed Mell was born in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1942. After graduating from Phoenix Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree, he enrolled in the ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles to pursue his interest in illustration.

In 1967, Mell took a job as junior art director for a prominent New York advertising firm. Soon after, he and his friend Skip Andrews established their own illustration firm, Sagebrush Studios, in Manhattan, which became an immediate success, with major corporate clients such as Cheerios, National Lampoon, and RCA. However, when Mell was given an opportunity in 1970 to return to Arizona to teach summer classes in silk screening and drawing on a Hopi reservation, he welcomed the chance. Charged with imagery from this trip, he moved back to Arizona in 1973 to begin a career in fine art.

Mell brings an architectural eye to the desert, emphasizing graphic elements and stripping away details that do not serve his vision. He is inspired by the American Southwest’s landscape and its people, livestock, flora and fauna, and weather. “Seeing the real thing has much more impact than a realist representation of nature, so in order to duplicate that energy, I like to push it a little further and bring back some of the impact that nature has in real life.”

Mell has won numerous awards for his work, including the Chrystina and James R. Parks Trustees’ Purchase Award at the Autry’s 2021 Masters for Cascading Canyon Storm. His art has been exhibited and collected by many museums, including the Booth Museum, the Denver Art Museum, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, the Gilcrease Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Rockwell-Corning Museum of Modern Art, and the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Corporate and private collectors have acquired his paintings and sculptures through the five decades of his career, and his life as an artist has been chronicled in major art publications. His biography, Beyond the Visible Terrain: The Art of Ed Mell, was published in 1996. In 2012, he was named artist of the year at the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards. Mell designed the Arizona Centennial Postage Stamp, depicting Sedona’s Cathedral Rock, and in 2016 he designed the set for the Arizona Opera Company’s opera Riders of the Purple Sage.

Ed Mell is represented by Ed Mell Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona; Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery, Tucson, Arizona; and the Owings Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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