This is the third and final article about the artist Lon Megargee. The first four paintings in the series of seven commissioned by Arizona Brewing Company: “Cowboys Dream,” “Black Bart,” “The Dude Lady,” and “The Quartet,” were the pieces actually purchased by them. All seven reproduced prints are available for purchase and are considered important pieces as well.
“In 1950, “The Dude Lady” was the third creation in the series. She is a whimsical caricature of an overweight cowgirl twirling and jumping through a rope. She has the attention of some A-1 drinking cowboys. This print was the least popular in the series because it was considered offensive, and was sometimes referred to as “The Fat Lady.” Consequently, it was the shortest run print in the series” according to an article by Ed Sipos, author and past president of the A-1 Chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America.
“In 1951 “The Quartet” (originally titled “Poker Flats”) was the fourth of the series of seven. In the picture there are four cowboys singing outside the “Poker Flat Saloon” with A-1 painted on the swinging doors. There is a wanted poster for “Black Bart” Dear or Alive and in the background “Black Bart” is sitting on a donkey under a street light. There is a coyote howling with “The Quartet” singers.
Lon Megargee’s life was such a dichotomy; he was an artist, architect and at the same time a rough and tough cowboy. He lived all over Arizona; living his life in Wickenburg, Tonto Basin, Globe, Phoenix, New River, and Sedona. As written in author, Cindy Winkelman’s chronicles of Lon Megargee, “Lon had confidence. He was a strong, husky man, too young and ignorant to be afraid. He learned the hard way that when fighting, anything went; kicking, gouging and even biting; there was no ‘gentlemens’ agreement.” You could say he lived a self-fulfilled prophecy indeed.
Megargee painted 15 murals for the Arizona State Capitol and are a part of the permanent collection at the Arizona State Capitol Museum.
One last story I especially like shows the spirit of this unique and talented renaissance man and I quote from author Cindy Winkelman’s book, Arizona’s Cowboy Artist, that I think tells it all: “Later in his life, Lon thought those 15 murals he painted for the Statehouse were not worth the powder it would take to “blow ‘em all to hell,” except, of course, for the water goddess (Irrigation), which he thought might have made “a wonderful ad for a hamburger joint!”
In a letter dated August 25, 1936, Megargee begged Governor Moeur to let him redo his “atrocities” and replace them with his best work. By that time he had traveled extensively and been more widely recognized for his talent. His personal disdain for his own artwork lead to a myth: one day Lon rod his horse right into the Statehouse, and jumped right through several of his own canvases!
Megargee may have been critical of his Statehouse paintings, but he attributed his contract with Governor Hunt to launching his career as an artist. He grew to have a different view of the drought that had driven him off his land five years earlier, for if he had prospered as a rancher, he may never have prospered as an artist.”
I hoped I have piqued your interest in Arizona’s Cowboy Artist, Lon Megargee. There is extensive history written about him. You can search Alonzo (Lon) Megargee III (1883-1960)
If interested in acquiring any of these prints please contact: WildHorseHeart @ 520-250-3920.