Wednesday, September 05, 2012

My Kind of Guy: Lon Megargee And the Cowboy's Dream

September 5, 2012
   Been boning up on an Arizona original for our next installment of Outrageous Arizona. His paintings hang in my office and several others hang in the halls of the True West World Headquarters. Who is this crazy AZ guy?

The Cowboy's Dream
He was born in Philadelphia as Alonzo Megarge in 1883. Inspired by a performance by Buffalo Bill's troup in Philadelphia, Alonzo came to Arizona at age 13 and sought out the cowboy life, eventually earning his spurs as foreman of Billy Cook's T.T. Ranch near New River. After investing in a ranch and going bust he decided to become an artist.

At some point he added an extra e to his last name and shortened his first name to become Lon Megargee. Lon was married at least eight times and his bio is almost pure BS (he claimed he was born in Tombstone among other windys) but these colorful eccentricities only added to his Arizona cowboy artist cred. As one wag put it, "Lon Megargee was exactly what an Easterner thought a Westerner should be." In 1949 or 1950 he created what some believe is his masterpiece "The Cowboy's Dream" for A-1 Beer. The entire series is very collectable and can be seen in many of my friend's homes and offices.

His painting of a cowboy giving his horse a drink out of his hat is still reproduced inside every Stetson hat.

In addition to being an artist, Lon Megargee built several houses that are today resorts (The Hermosa Inn in Phoenix and Rancho Manana in Cave Creek). He died of a heart attack in Sedona in 1960 and his ashes were scattered across the T.T. Ranch, thus fulfilling the cowboy's dream.

Yes, my kind of guy. Outrageous and full of it. Oh, and I like how he painted. . .

"He uses his paintbrush like a pistol."
—A review by Ball: "Lon Megargee—Maverick Painter"