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Joella Jean Mahoney's abstract paintings convey the poetic essence of the Colorado Plateau, illuminating the enigmatic spaces of its landscapes with incandescent light and color.
Her luminous paintings reveal her spiritual communion with nature that transcends time and place. In 1951 Mahoney came to Flagstaff from Alameda California to attend Arizona State College, now Northern Arizona University. Her description of her first experience with the atmosphere of Arizona is revealing; “I saw Arizona for the first time when I stepped off the train in Flagstaff. It was dawn. The stars overhead were like lanterns, the sky was crystalline, and in the distance, the mountains were like cardboard cutouts. I saw a landscape that matched how I felt inside and I stepped into my future.” Her bond with the area would become the source of her life’s work. Throughout her long career Mahoney conceived of, and executed, her work in thematically coherent series. This exhibition consists of work selected from her most important series including the Rush to Meaning Series, the Southwest Landscape Series, the Sunflower Series, and others. When Mahoney passed away in 2017, she left a great legacy for women artists of the West. While comparisons with other painters are natural, it is important to acclaim Mahoney’s powerful intuitive response to the region, and to celebrate her as a master of capturing the Southwestern landscape. Essence and Metamorphosis is a look at some of the highlights of her long and productive career.