The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

The Maynard Dixon Painting That Told Me To Go To The USA

During the late 1940s and early 50s my dad would sometimes buy a copy of the Saturday Evening Post from our local WH Smith in South London. It was a much better deal in terms of pictures and articles of interest than anything published in England at the time. I particularly remember being astonished at the advertisements for food and drink – this at a time when food continued to be rationed in a rather run down dilapidated post war London suburb, still pock marked with bombed out buildings.

As the years rolled by and prosperity returned Hollywood and Rock n’Roll crafted part of my own cultural outlook. As a history teacher and politics nut I developed a fascination for the American scene but never imagined crossing the pond for real, only in my imagination.

Then in 1990, browsing in a local discount bookstore I picked up a copy of “Exploring The West” by Herman J Viola and there, on page 240 was this picture, “Open Range”, painted by Maynard Dixon in 1942…..

the grim gaunt edges of the rocks, the great bare backbone of the Earth

I was hooked. I just had to go out there and see that for myself – the big sky, the majestic mesas, the sandy, scrubby landscape. I wanted to sense it, feel it, drink it in with my eyes. Moreover I wanted to stand in front of that painting which the book said was part of a collection of western art near the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. So in the mid 90s we booked a fly drive and I took the car east across the Rockies to Denver, checked into the Brown Palace that night and, bright and early next morning, sauntered out of the hotel to where the gallery was supposed to be and – no gallery, no collection, no picture….apparently the whole project had been closed a few months before and the paintings scattered to the four corners of America.

So I have never seen the painting.

But we did see the landscape. We have driven all around Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. First year we drove from Flagstaff to Bluff, Utah and alongside Monument Valley and I saw it for real.

A few days later we drove to Moab and I stood at Grand View Point in Canyonlands – thinner and with more hair than now – and wanted time to freeze for ever……

….and I so much want to return.

Thank you, Maynard Dixon….

BTW – a few years later we did see many of his paintings at a glorious exhibition mounted at Brigham Young University…..but that painting, sadly, wasn’t there…..

posted by david in Art,Travel,USA and have Comments Off on The Maynard Dixon Painting That Told Me To Go To The USA

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