The late, great Ed Mell shows up on almost every page of True West magazine because he was my muse and my friend. We shared studio space in the early eighties, and I often tell people that even though I attended the University of Arizona Fine Arts College for five years, my real education in terms of thinking like an artist began with his influence. And the vast majority of it was simply by osmosis. He never taught me a class, or tried to influence me in any overt way (also a good lesson to apply to everything!), he merely threw everything he had into his art and you could clearly see the results. That, my friend, is quite an education by example.

Ed Mell (left) and Bob Boze Bell, circa 1984
Ralph Rippe

The other thing I learned from “Edmundo Segundo” is to be conservative in your values and manner, but be as outrageous as you can in your art. I have applied this aspect to every page of every issue since we took over the magazine in 1999.

Here is how he put it:

“There are subtle guys and there are guys who like to shout. I like people to see the pictures and be taken aback. I make it theater. I am not dealing conceptually with the subject of landscape. I am not playing a game with my art. I want the drama. I know drama works.”

Ed Mell II, being interviewed by E.J. Montini for the Arizona Republic, 1984

A Drummer Brother from Another Mother
Art T. Burton is a distinguished conga player in addition to being a groundbreaking historian who has almost single-handedly championed and promoted Bass Reeves to his current position in the cultural landscape.
Courtesy Art Burton

My other brother from another mother is Art T. Burton, who we are featuring prominently in our cover feature on Bass Reeves getting his proper due (page 20).

Square Shooter by Ed Mell, 1988 
This big oil painting was bought by the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger at Dewey Galleries in Santa Fe, while Arnold was in town filming Twins. I seem to remember that the actor paid $10,000 for the piece.

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