Arthur (Art) J. Merrill (1885 - 1973)
A. J. Merrill was born in Canada and lived much of his early life in Montreal. He spent the first part of his adulthood as a geologist working in Canada first for the Canadian Geological Survey and then for private industry. He was attracted to painting and drawing as a child. His grandmother in St. Louis was struck by his talent and encouraged him to study art in Paris when he was 15. This was not to his parent’s liking and so he was sent to college to study pharmacy, geology and chemistry. However, he never gave up is love for painting. He eventually attended private painting classes while still pursuing his career in geology.
His understanding of geology and love of the outdoors drew him to paint landscapes for which he became noted. He especially enjoyed the desert vistas of the southwestern United States, where he painted extensively in California, Arizona and northern New Mexico.
Merrill eventually gave up geology to pursue a career in art. He moved to New York where he developed a successful commercial art business from his studio in Greenwich Village. He lived in New York for 18 years. In 1930, he moved west where he continued to paint Indian pueblo life, old missions and desert landscapes. He eventually settled in Taos, New Mexico in 1946, where he established a successful studio and gallery near the old plaza. For many years he and his wife were active in the Taos artist community. He became especially noted for his paintings of nocturne scenes of Indian and rural life in northern New Mexico. In addition to painting, he was also an etcher and lithographer. He was noted for his philanthropic nature with his time and talents; volunteering to teach art classes to students at the Central Catholic High School in Taos and at the Taos Pueblo Day School. He had one man shows of his etchings, lithographs and paintings in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Biographical abstract synthesized from a October, 1957 article in Desert Magazine (pages 2-14) by Thetford LeViness.
Written and submitted by Robert Wilson
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