Saturday, February 18, 2017

Don't Miss This! The Art of Merrill Mahaffey at the Booth

My husband knows how much I love art museums, so he made sure one of my Valentine's Day presents was a trip to the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville. When we arrived, I headed straight for the special exhibition of Merrill Mahaffey's fabulous art on the museum's second floor.

    © 2017 Merrill Mahaffey 
If you've never seen Mr. Mahaffey's large scale landscapes, you're in for a treat IF you can get to the Booth by closing time on Sunday, Feb. 19. That's when the temporary exhibition of his work, "65 Years of Chasing Sunlight," ends. 

Mahaffey works primarily in acrylics, and so do I, so I was most interested in how he achieves such amazing textural effects in his paintings. The terrain of the American Southwest with its cliffs and canyons is what Mahaffey captures so eloquently. Each work is infused with light and is so atmospheric that to stand before any one of his paintings is like standing in the actual location depicted. These photos, taken at the museum by Hubs, don't even start to do these paintings justice.

©2017 Merrill Mahaffey

What fascinated me was how Mahaffey was able to paint rock and stone so adeptly and depict them so compellingly that the temptation to reach out and touch the paintings is darned near overwhelming. It may be hard to imagine being transfixed by a painting of rocks, but that was the effect works like "Silver Plume Granite" had on me. I could only stand there staring at its colors and shapes and the exquisite play of light and shadow along its planes and cracks. This is what great art does: it draws you in and allows you to see and experience something in an entirely new way.

But closeup views of rocks are just part of this collection. Works like "Los Alamos Cliffs," "Cliff Faces," "Glen Canyon Dam" and "Cerillos Sky" depict the grandeur and vast scale of a landscape totally unlike what we have here in the Southeast. Mahaffey's paintings transport the viewer to places most of us will never see in person, namely because he's been an avid outdoorsman since he was a child, ferreting out backcountry locations miles off the beaten path. Now nearing 80, Merrill Mahaffey remains an icon and an inspiration for would-be landscape painters.

If you make the effort to see this exhibit before it comes down tonight, you will not be disappointed. It's an amazing experience. It would be a shame if you missed it.

Text  ©2017 Lynn Edwards

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