The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts


Merrill Mahaffey, "View of Battleship Arizona," 1978, Acrylic on canvas, Gift of the Hon. Bruce Babbitt

November 15, 2015

11:00 am – 3:00 pm




The University of Arizona Museum of Art is excited to announce that its second Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Arizona artist Merrill Dean Mahaffey. The presentation will occur at the Museum’s  Avant-Gala! on November 15 at The University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix.


Mahaffey’s seminal works are a part of many major public and private institutions throughout the United States, including the Denver Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the collections of Hughes Aircraft and The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor. Most pertinent is the Mahaffey owned by the University of Arizona Museum of Art. View of Battleship Arizona, a 1978 acrylic on canvas that towers at over five by nine feet, was originally purchased from the artist by former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt. Babbitt donated the piece to the Museum in 1981, and it has been an important part of the collection since, even spending time by special request in the President’s Office. He is the recipient of many awards, and his work has been included in both solo and group exhibitions. Mahaffey’s work has evolved from an earlier abstract style to his present realism, reflecting the best traditions of American landscape painting. He merges realism with a modernist spirit creating real paintings of real places.


The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an artist associated with the Museum of significant merit or leadership whose creations or contributions enrich the field of the arts. This award is open to artists of all artistic disciplines. The criteria include artistic impact, contributions to the field of artistic practice, and elements that set the artist apart from others in his or her field.


Avant-Gala! also serves as the Museum’s premiere social and fundraising event of the year. Attendees can enjoy drinks and brunch while celebrating Mahaffey’s contributions to the field. There will also be silent and live auctions featuring gems from the Tucson and Phoenix communities as well as one-of-a-kind artistic experiences. Proceeds from the event help to support vital Museum exhibitions, events, and programs.


As a special twist, Avant-Gala! will be held at the University of Arizona’s School of Medicine in Phoenix. This location celebrates not only Mahaffey’s Phoenix residence but also the new partnership between the Museum and the College of Medicine. The Museum will be curating rotating exhibitions in the College’s new campus, beginning with Scott Baxter’s 100 Years, 100 Ranchers series in October.


The Museum first awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Avant-Gala! in February 2015. The recipient was Tucson artist Barbara Rogers, also a former professor at the University of Arizona.


Tickets for the event are $125, $75 of which is tax deductable. To purchase a ticket, fill out the RSVP card and mail it to the Museum at 1031 North Olive Road, Tucson, AZ 85721.


If you’d like to receive more information, please contact Angela Telesco, Program Coordinator for Guest Services, at arepp@email.arizona.edu