Of Maynard Dixon, Thomas McGuane said, "To me, no painter has ever quite understood the light, the distances, the aboriginal ghostliness of the American West as well as Maynard Dixon. The great mood of his work is solitude, the effect of the land and space on people. While his work stands perfectly well on its claims to beauty, it offers a spiritual view of the West indispensable to anyone who would understand it."
The Western Writers of America voted the feature length film, Maynard Dixon Art and Spirit, Best Documentary of 2008.
Home of the Desert Rat
©Maynard Dixon 1945. All rights reserved. Collection of the Phoenix Museum of Art.
Maynard Dixon Art and Spirit, which features over 400 of Dixon's works of art, is directed by Jayne McKay. The film is narrated by Diane Keaton, a collector of Dixon's paintings, and is written by Jayne McKay and Daniel Dixon. Maynard Dixon's words are brought to life by singer/songwriter Don Edwards. The original soundtrack is written and performed by Grammy-award winner John McEuen, a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
The documentary was also part of the official selection shown at the Santa Fe Film Festival and the Vallarta Film Festival.
Moonlight Over Zion
©Maynard Dixon. All rights reserved. Private collection.
"Great American artists like Maynard Dixon had a big influence on us with his landscapes of the southwest, particularly in the clouds that he painted. Dixon had a wonderfully reductive way of organizing the world of the Southwest. He often painted towards the sun, so there is a powerful brightness in some of his work. Even though he stylized the world, he got a true sense of the weather and lighting of the place." - Bill Cone, Disney Pixar production designer for Cars.
Maynard Dixon in the Tehachapies
Public domain image.
Writer/Director Jayne McKay spoke with me about the film.
Lalla: "How did you come to make a documentary about Maynard Dixon?"
Jayne: "I visited Dixon's cabin in Utah, because I was already a fan of his art. Although I had never been to the area before, I felt as if I knew it well. I'd seen it so many times in Dixon's paintings. I became passionate about bringing his art and his life story to the public."
©Maynard Dixon 1931. All rights reserved. Private collection.
Lalla: "Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making the film, including your influences, as well as your overall goals for this project."
Jayne: "This is my first documentary, so I cast as wide a net as I possibly could. I had originally intended to make a very scholarly film about Dixon's art and the many remarkable people that he met during his career."
Young Indian Mother
©Maynard Dixon. All rights reserved. Private collection.
Jayne: "Months before finishing the film, I determined that I could reach the widest audience if I focused on the highlights of Dixon's life, focusing less on details. It's best to let the art in the film speak for itself. Dixon's son Daniel reminded me I could follow his father's example. Maynard Dixon understood the brilliance of being reductive in his work. He removed the details that got in the way of his intention. That's what made his later paintings so powerful, I think. It improved the film to eliminate many dates, acquaintances and other particulars that I'd worked so hard to research over the course of six long years."
© Dorothea Lange. Late 1920s. Oakland Museum of Art. Gift of Paul S. Taylor.
Jayne: "My desire for this film remains as it has from the inception of the project: I want to see this film screened in theaters and eventually broadcast on television, not only in the United States, but worldwide in order to bring wider recognition to one of America's greatest regionalist painters.
"Last December in Mexico, we were selected to participate in the Vallarta Film Festival. It was a pleasure to introduce Dixon to a Mexican audience and see their enthusiasm about his art. We intend to screen in Japan and Europe this fall. I feel fortunate to be able to introduce Dixon's art to people in other countries, which fulfills my expectations for the film."
©Maynard Dixon. All rights reserved. Collection of Brigham Young University.
Lalla: "What is your next project?"
Jayne: "I'm in pre-production on a film about Travel Art. Maynard Dixon is one of the featured artists, also Sam Hyde Harris and Maurice Logan. These were fine artists working as illustrators, creating unbelievably beautiful travel posters, train menus, and advertising illustration. I plan to have John McEuen create more of his incredible music for this next film. Maybe we'll even produce a separate CD of his great traveling songs."
Rememberance of Tusayan
The Spur awards will be presented at the upcoming annual conference of the Western Writers of America to be held June 10-14, 2008, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Western Writers of America, Inc.:
The organization was founded in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West and bestow Spur Awards for distinguished writing in the western field. Winners of the Spur Awards in previous years include Larry McMurtry for Lonesome Dove, Michael Blake for Dances With Wolves, and Tony Hillerman for Skinwalker.
Spur Awards Schedule (During WWA Annual Conference)
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Producer/Director Jayne McKay will speak at an informal panel at 3:15pm during the WWA Conference Spur Awards Reception at 6:30pm
Spur Awards Banquet at 7pm
The Awards Banquet tickets can be purchased on the WWA website for $65.
Location of main Spur Awards events:
Chaparral Suites Resort
5001 N Scottsdale Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Location of DVD and Book Signings:
Friday June 13, 2008 7-9pm
All of the Spur award winners will be signing DVD's and books. Open to the public.
Barnes and Noble
10500 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Visit the website for the film at: here.
To book Maynard Dixon Art and Spirit for a film festival or screening:
Email Cloud World Productions: click here.
Information about the sale of DVD's will be available here.