Maynard Dixon Ascending Clouds
Maynard Dixon fell in love with Arizona on his first trip east from his California home in 1900. Dixon’s need to capture the west before it was gone became a driving force in Maynard Dixon’s painting and drawing career. Arizona was a haven for Maynard Dixon, with its great vistas and ever-changing skies. The people were varied and real. Anglos were a rare sight in early Arizona and Maynard Dixon liked it that way. Dixon spoke fluent Spanish and felt at home with the Native Indian and Hispanic population.
Dixon’s first mural commission was the Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Tucson, Arizona in 1907. Only 32 years old, Maynard Dixon was already a well known illustrator in San Francisco. The Tucson mural commission would be one of many murals he would complete. Dixon’s last mural was also done in Tucson for the Los Angles Train Depot. The mural was of the Grand Canyon, a monumental project for any healthy man but for Dixon, who was dying of lung disease and would be dead just days after completion, it was a fitting way for a great artist to end his career.
Dixon and Tucson became linked not only in life, giving him his first mural but in death. Dixon passed away on November 13, 1946 in his comfortable adobe home on Prince Road in a house he had built by trading paintings for architecture, water, and land. Before his death in 1937, Edith Hamlin married Maynard Dixon, and they moved to Tucson, Arizona together in 1939. Together, Maynard Dixon and Edith Hamlin painted western scenes in Arizona and Utah until Maynard Dixon’s death in 1946. After his death, Edith Hamlin returned to San Francisco, where she continued to paint landscapes and murals for the remainder of her life.
Tucson’s Catalina Mountains became one of Dixon’s favorite subjects. A great view of these magnificent mountains lay just outside his back porch. Dixon set his easel up in the living room so he could watch and paint as the clouds came rolling in. Saguaros, prickly pear cactus, and chollas cacti took on an important role in his landscape paintings. When feeling up to a day painting trip, a quick run to the Rillito wash with its great cottonwoods provided inspiration, especially in the fall and early winter when the trees were in their full yellow splendor.
Tucson had grown from1907 with only a few thousand people to over twenty-five thousand people by 1946. No longer a cow town from the turn of the century, Tucson was now a city. Maynard Dixon would be shocked at Tucson’s growth. His little adobe still stands, but now is in center of town surrounded by row homes. His beloved Catalina Mountains now covered with million dollar homes. A million people now live in the surrounding Tucson area yet the Saguaros, prickly pear, and chollas still survive and the mountains still change in appearance just as Dixon captured them a century ago.
Maynard Dixon Promise Of Spring
Maynard Dixon In Old Tucson
Maynard Dixon Cloudbanks and Shadow
Maynard Dixon At Home
Maynard Dixon Late Light in the Catalinas
Maynard Dixon Fast Moving Shadows
Maynard Dixon Chollas Against Mountain
Maynard Dixon Saguaro
Maynard Dixon Arizona Autumn
Maynard Dixon Old Adobe By Moonlight
Maynard Dixon Catalina Mountains