Lon Megargee 
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Considered “Arizona’s First Cowboy Artist”, it was said Alonzo Megargee III once aspired “to be an arty artist, complete with smock and beret. But there were two obstacles: his own nature and that of the Arizona Sonoran Desert.”

 

After his first trip to the Grand Canyon State at the age of thirteen, Philadelphia native Megargee returned to Arizona again in 1899 determined to become a cowboy.Over the next several years Megargee worked at various ranches before founding his own spread in New River, which he dubbed Rancho 51.  After a brutal three year drought forced the operation to cease, he decided to pursue a full time art career,  attending the Pennsylvania Academy and later the Los Angeles School of Art and Design.

During the next two decades Megargee was in and out of Arizona while traveling extensively throughout the United States, Mexico and Europe, working at various times as an exhibition roper, bronco buster, cowboy, fireman, poker dealer, Art Director for Paramount Studios, and newspaper sketch artist. But the lure of the desert never abated and by the late 1920’s he had returned to Arizona permanently.

Although Megargee’s personal life was largely one of an itinerant adventurer who could count numerous occupations, wives and homes, as an artist he was a dedicated perfectionist who was continually raising the bar.  His versatility and desire to move in new directions resulted in quality works done in a range of styles, including illustrative, impressionistic, and expressionistic.

In 1913 Megargee persuaded then governor George Hunt and the state legislature to approve a commission that would inextricably link his name with Arizona history.  After convincing Hunt that he knew the state better than any other artist, he was paid $4,000 for a set of fifteen large murals to adorn the newly built State Capitol Building in Phoenix.  The murals remain on display today at the State Capitol Museum.

Fellow Arizona artist Lew Davis once noted of Megargee, “Always one characteristic stood out. He was indigenous. He belonged here. Not a carpetbagger with a paint box, or a disillusioned urbanite seeking a new life, but an artist who used what he knew and had lived to put down what he had seen."

Lon Megargee died in Cottonwood, Arizona in 1960.  His ashes were scattered over a patch of the high Sonoran Desert that was once his beloved Rancho 51.

enlargement and more information
Lon Megargee Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
 
Lon Megargee Longhorn Steers
Steers
 
Source: Canyon Magic by Gary Fillmore
Lon Megargee The Mountain Man Lon Megargee Tex
  The Mountain Man Tex
         
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