August is American Artist Appreciation Month, so let’s take a moment to acknowledge three American Artists who brought Arizona’s history and landscape to life.
David Swing (1864-1945) began his career as a musician, but moved to Phoenix to focus on painting. In addition to creating paintings of well- known places in Arizona such as the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest, Swing was also an engraver and created 13 carved reliefs for the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Lon Megargee (1883-1960) came to Phoenix at the age of 16 having decided to become a cowboy. That didn’t work out for him, so he went to art school. His love of the desert inspired paintings of mountains and nature, reflecting Arizona’s wilderness and strength. Finally, Jay Datus (1914-1974), while he did not paint Arizona’s natural landscapes, painted a series of murals portraying major phases of Arizona’s history. Funded by the Works Progress Administration, Datus was only 23 years old when he was commissioned to paint murals for the addition to the Capitol Building.
To learn more about these Arizona artists and view their work online, visit the Digital Arizona Library (DAZL), and find these artists and more on the Arizona Memory Project, or you can take a trip to the Arizona Capitol Museum where many of these artists’ paintings are on display.
David Swing, Rough Going, 1944, oil on canvas
Lon Megargee, The Spirt of Arizona, 1913, oil on canvas
Jay Datus, Modern Era, 1937 – 1938, mural