From the vantage point of a helicopter, I have seen the depths of the Grand Canyon, pillars of Monument Valley and the shimmering waters of Lake Powell.
But I have never flown in a helicopter.
How can this be?
I found these views while firmly planted on my two feet in a library bookstore. On the pricier bookshelf, showered in bright lighting, Beyond the Visible Terrain, The Art of Ed Mell stole my attention from everything else.
I flipped through the pages, amazed by Mell’s ability to portray the expansive and overwhelming landscapes of the desert southwest. I even fell in love with a painting of a longhorn steer posing stoically with a cactus.
I almost bought the book, but with two gardening books from the “over a dollar” section and a move to a new home around the corner, I decided to leave Ed Mell’s art on the shelf. I so regret this decision.
Now I am reading my borrowed copy from the library.
But you’re still wondering about the helicopter.
When I look at Mell’s landscapes, I feel like I am looking at the Earth from a towering perspective. What I’m experiencing is the teamwork of Mell and “Jerry Foster, news reporter and pilot for Phoenix’s KPNX-TV.” Foster took Mell to landscapes rarely seen by the human eye. Mell had the opportunity and artistic ability to absorb every angle of every mountain, peak, column, and canyon. Sometimes Foster even dropped Mell off to explore the elusive terrain by foot. Mell has been able to acquire so many perspectives; emotional, physical, and limitless boundaries, to create his unique renderings of the vast ratios of the desert southwest.
As a rock climber, I know what it feels like to reach the top and see landscapes from perspectives that so many will never see, but now I know that I need to get on a helicopter because I have been missing out. And I’m crossing my fingers that I will find that book again in a local bookstore or maybe even a poster or painting at a garage sale or second-hand shop.
In between studying and painting landscapes, Mell also painted massive longhorns, adrenaline driven cowboys and the mysteriously luminous angles of flowers. The Smith Center in Las Vegas has two flower paintings, Luminous Bloom I and Luminous Bloom II on display in the Boman Pavilion. I recently attended a play, and when I was leaving the theater to stretch my legs during intermission, I saw the paintings. I knew immediately that they were Mell’s work. I couldn’t believe that I had missed them when I first walked into the building. Even though I will probably never own a painting to hang in my home, it’s nice to know that I can conveniently see original paintings by Mell up close.
*Hagerty, Donald J. Beyond the Visible Terrain: The Art of Ed Mell. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Pub., 1996. Print.
Gallery: The Owings Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico