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Mehl Lawson

Biography from the Archives of askART

From a studio in Bonita, California, Mehl Lawson creates western sculpture that reflects his ongoing fascination with horses and the relationship between them and their cowboy riders.   In 1982, five years after he had completed his first sculpture, his skills earned him membership in the Cowboy Artists of America*, which he served  as President in 1998.  In CAA annual exhibitions, he received a Silver Sculpture Award in 1994, 1997, 1998, 2003 and a Gold Sculpture Award in 1992 and 1996.  In 1992, he received the Kieckhefer Award* for Best of Show.

Lawson won the Frederic Remington Award* at the 1996 Prix de West Show*, hosted by The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Of his work, it is written: "Mehl Lawson is an artist in two mediums---sculpture and horses.  He is an heir to the proud vaquero tradition of Old California: a dedicated disciple of the refined, subtle elegance of the Santa Barbara style that inspired the creative spirits of such men as Ed Borein and Luis Ortega. . .His sculptures capture the spirit of the Western buckaroo---the working men of the great California and Nevada ranches." (CA)

As a young boy, he copied work by Orren Mixer. He made his home with his wife in Bonita, California.

CA Cowboy Artists of America 44th Annual Exhibition, 2009, Exhibition Catalogue, Publication of the Phoenix Art Museum
Vicki Stavig, "For the Love of a Horse", Art of the West, January/February 2003
Artist Files of the Phoenix Art Museum Library

* For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV
A determined mindset, along with raw talent, has made Mehl Lawson one of the more successful sculptors on the Western art scene today.  Lawson's interest in Western art developed over a period of time, as an offshoot of his first true love, horses. "From the time I was born, I loved horses," he states, "And since my folks couldn't buy me a horse, I started drawing them."

Currently living in Bonita, California, Lawson is heir to the proud vaquero tradition of Old California, a dedicated disciple of the refined subtle elegance of the Santa Barbara style that inspired the creative spirits of such men as Edward Borein and Louis Ortega.

Indeed, after high school and college, Lawson's devotion to horses took him into a highly successful career as a show-horse trainer where he won competitions and awards at major horse shows all over the country.   However, during his years as a horse trainer, Lawson's latent artistic talent lay just beneath the surface.

The turning point came in 1969 when he attended a showing of the works of the Cowboy Artists of America in Oklahoma City. "I was just bowled over.  From that point on, I started becoming more aware of Western art."  Realizing he could combine his love for horses with his underlying artistic talent, Lawson charged full-bore into the world of sculpting.

From the outset, his goal was to become a member of the Cowboy Artists of America.  Combining determination with his instinctive artistic talent, Lawson reached that goal in 1982, and served as president in 1998.  Reflecting, he says, "Sometimes I meet young artists who really have talent, but they just don't have the drive.  I guess I always had the attitude that I was going to learn this skill no matter what it took!"

Since then, Lawson has come into his own as an artist.  Just as his love for horses once dominated in the arena, that same love now dominates his art.  He explains, "One thing that's never changed over the years is my favorite subject matter . . . I'm still hooked on horses!"

Lawson has won numerous awards, including the Remington Award at the Prix de West Show at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.   He also won the Thomas Moran Award at the Masters of the American West Show at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles, California.


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Mel Lawson

About  Mehl Lawson

Born:  1942
Known for:  horse and cowboy genre sculpture