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Tue, Aug. 11

Historic artists cast new light on Canyon

Many of America's greatest artists have tried to capture the majesty of the Grand Canyon in their work, challenging both their perception and their skill.

"Grand Canyon Grandeur: Early Paintings and Prints from the Hays Collection" opens Saturday, Feb. 9 and runs through late May at the Museum of Northern Arizona.

The exhibit brings together a who's who of preeminent artists who chose Grand Canyon as their subject. The artworks in this exhibit are from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Hays of Paradise Valley.

This exhibit's 24 artists labored from 1854 to the mid-1930s to reproduce a small measure of the Canyon's monumental beauty in their 55 works in this show.

Many strived for detailed realism, while others saw the Canyon as atmospheric and impressionistic.

Among the exhibit's artists are masters such as Louis Akin, Carl Oscar Borg, George Elbert Burr, Thomas Moran, and Gunnar Widforss.

Collector Abe Hays has assembled art and artifacts most of his life. Together with his wife Lalla, Hays also has important collections of four artists who are prominent in the current exhibition - Carl Oscar Borg, George Elbert Burr, Edgar Alwin Payne and Gunnar Widforss.

The Hayses also have major collections of Western artists - Maynard Dixon, Will James, and Lon Megargee - which have been shown at major museums in the U.S. and Canada.

Collector Abe Hays states, "For 60 years I have been trying to collect art of the Grand Canyon, Colorado Plateau and other Arizona subjects, in both prints and paintings. At the top of my collecting interests are the Grand Canyon and Walpi, as I consider both to be the most important and relevant to our state's history. I particularly like to collect worthwhile artists whose best known and accomplished artwork was done in Arizona. In addition to those artists, I value William Henry Holmes, William R. Leigh and Julian Scott. I have felt a responsibility to collect in this field and to provide the artists' works for future generations to enjoy."

MNA Curator of Fine Art Alan Petersen adds, "The Hays Collection contains some of the southwest's finest work, created by outstanding artists from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. 'Grand Canyon Grandeur' dramatically illustrates the creative richness of a period that could be called a 'Golden Age' of Western art. This period followed the exploration of the Great Surveys, when the Santa Fe Railroad, Fred Harvey Company and other business interests began to bring enthusiastic attention to the beauty of the southwestern landscape and cultures. The artwork in this exhibit has a vibrancy that reflects the artists' fascination with the newly revealed landscape of Grand Canyon and their ability to convey the intensity of what it meant to encounter this landscape."

With a long and illustrious history, the Museum of Northern Arizona evokes the very spirit of the Colorado Plateau, including the Grand Canyon and the Four Corners regions, inspiring a sense of love and responsibility for the beauty and diversity of the area. It is located three miles north of downtown Flagstaff on Highway 180. The Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For information, call (928) 774-5213 or


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