Arizona artist Merrill Mahaffey to be honored by Shemer Art Center

Members of the art community with gather at Phoenix’s Shemer Art Center on Friday, Nov. 16, to recognize Arizona artist Merrill Mahaffey at its Shemer Honors event.

Each year the board of directors of the Shemer Art Center and Museum Association, Inc. honors an Arizona artist who has achieved great success in his or her career, according to a press release.

Merrill Mahaffey (submitted photo)

This year, the honored artist is Mr. Mahaffey with the help of Honorary Chairs Linda and Jim Ballinger.

The event will take place under a tent in the sculpture gardens of the Shemer Art Center, 5005 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix. A cocktail and artist exhibition reception at 6 p.m. will be followed by a formal dinner and program starting at 7 p.m.

“The Shemer Art Center is the perfect setting for an event like this that will not only recognize and share the story of success of a long-time Arizona artist, but also inspire other Arizona artists,” said Shonna James, president and executive director of the Shemer Art Center, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to recognizing Merrill as a tribute to his talent and impact on the arts in Arizona!”

Mr. Mahaffey was born in 1937 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado. At the age of 13, he completed his first painting and received encouragement from a local artist to continue with his talent.

Mr. Mahaffey’s exploration of the west started at a young age, first with his father and soon on his own. His reputation as an Arizona landscape painter began developing in the 1970s, the press release stated.

His work evolved from an earlier abstract style to his present realism, reflecting the best traditions of American landscape painting. As an avid outdoorsman, Mr. Mahaffey has redefined the great western landscape with his contemporary interpretation. He has climbed, skied, rafted, fished, rode horseback and strolled through the subjects of his paintings.

He continues to lead the way for new artists who will interpret the western landscape.

Mr. Mahaffey completed his formal art education in California and Arizona, receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Fine Art from Sacramento State University and Arizona State University, respectively. He also did post graduate work in photography at California Institute for the Arts.

Mr. Mahaffey taught at Phoenix College from 1967 to 1982, and is the recipient of many awards, including recently being named a 2019 Historymaker by the Arizona Historical Society. He has had numerous exhibitions at and received awards from the Phoenix and Tucson Art Museums and the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.

Individual seats for this event are $225, with additional event sponsorship levels available. For more information visit

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