Old Ned

Arizona Historymakers™

Arizona Historical Society

Merrill Mahaffey

1937 -

Honored as Historymaker 2019

Western Artist, Painter, Teacher

Oral History Transcript:

An undeniable icon within Arizona and the Southwest arts scene, Merrill Mahaffey has enjoyed more than four decades as a nationally recognized painter. While Mr. Mahaffey is respected for his dedication and expertise as an art educator, he is best known for his ability to emphasize realism and personal modernism within Southwestern landscapes. In particular, he is respected for his ability to interpret and translate elements of nature from their natural environment. Mr. Mahaffey's work evolved from an earlier abstract style to his present realism, reflecting the best traditions of American landscape painting. He is particularly known for his Grand Canyon interpretations that were often first photographed and sketched on his many Colorado River rafting excursions. With lithography and serigraphy, he maintains the same expansive, panoramic quality found in his paintings, rendering certain basic yet complex abstract relationships in nature with the visionary technique that is uniquely his own. His works are exhibited at some of the nation's most respected art institutions, among them the Phoenix Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of American Art in Washington D.C. His Arizona landscapes and art endeavors also are on display at numerous institutional, corporate, and public locations nationwide, including Sky Harbor International Airport. He continues to lead the way for new generations of art-explorers who will interpret the western landscape. Mr. Mahaffey holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Sacramento State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University.