BYU Museum of Art unveils new Maynard Dixon exhibit

Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), No Place to Go, 1935, oil on canvas, 25 x 30 inches. Courtesy of Riley Lewis. Over 70 paintings by western painter Maynard Dixon are on display in a brilliant retrospective exhibition open at the BYU Museum of Art.

The BYU Museum of Art unveiled a new exhibit, “Maynard Dixon: Searching for a Home — Painted and Poetic Imagination of the American West,” which is open until Sept. 23, 2023.

According to BYU Museum of Art public relations manager Riley Lewis, this is one of the largest ever retrospectives of Maynard Dixon, featuring many of his “most cherished works from both the Museum’s collection and several generous leaders from across the country.”

Maynard Dixon is renowned for his extensive travels throughout the western United States capturing vivid scenes of landscapes and emotion.

“The MOA’s Maynard Dixon collection is unparalleled,” exhibition’s curator Dr. Kenneth Hartvigsen said. “In this exhibition, we wanted to bring something new, something that would enrich the viewing experience of visitors who already know his work. At the same time, those who come to the museum should expect to see all their favorite Dixon painting — and a few incredible additions borrowed from other museums.”

Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), Mesas in Shadow, 1926, oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 40 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1937. Courtesy of Riley Lewis. “Mesas in Shadow” is one of just many of the vast landscapes showcased in Maynard Dixon’s exhibition.

This exhibition drifts between several themes that are prominent in Dixon’s work: large canvases of land, the natural beauty of red-rock, the vast plains of the West and a special attention to clouds. Dixon also captures cultures and lifestyles of the time, pulling from events like the Great Depression, said Hartvigsen.

“Large exhibitions like this allow us to showcase the breadth and depth of Dixon’s work,” MOA director Janalee Emmer said. “We are thrilled to introduce Maynard Dixon to a new generation of students and scholars, and we encourage new insight and research into his work.”

Dixon places a spotlight on the American dream, his own friends and neighbors and many depictions of western homes.

“The exhibition also features original poetry by Maynard Dixon, which touches on similar themes as many of his paintings,” Lewis said. “Visitors to the Museum will discover that Dixon’s artistry did not extend only to the visual arts, but to the written word as well.”

Guests can see Dixon’s “mighty West” from a new perspective, and contrast it with the “turmoil, distraction and clamor” of the city the artist had left behind. The exhibition’s mix of paintings and poetry makes for an enjoyable, interactive experience, said Lewis.

According to Lewis, the MOA will host an Art After Dark event in January, a symposium March 23-25 and a series of guest speakers sharing insights on Dixon’s life and legacy throughout the next year. Lewis said each of these events will be free and open to everyone who wishes to attend.

This exhibition showcases brilliant landscapes and sentiments of old in hopes to connect today’s society with a history not too distant from us.

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