Did you know cowboys dream and sometimes their dreams come true? For Arizona artist, Lon Megargee, I believe all his dreams to live the cowboy life did come true. As a young boy growing up near Philadelphia he always dreamed of going out West and becoming a real cowboy. He spent most of his time sketching horses, Indians and anything depicting the West he dreamed of being a part of someday.
He moved to Arizona as a young man, riding into the West with a driving force. He became Arizona’s first resident artist by 1910. In 1913, he proposed to our first Governor, W. P. Hunt, to paint murals for the Arizona State Capitol. This was Arizona’s first commission for public artwork as well as Lon’s first commission. He completed 15 murals for the walls of the new State Capitol. Arizona had just become a state in February 1912, and Lon’s timing and art fit right in with painting our Western lifestyle in Arizona. His history and character are colorful and full of adventure and travel.
Many people today recognize “Cowboy’s Dream” but know very little about the artist, Lon Megargee. He worked as a very successful illustrator and made the transition into fine art with ease; not an easy accomplishment for all artists. You can still see many of his paintings in fine art galleries throughout the southwest.
Arizona’s first brewery, the Arizona Brewing Company in Phoenix, used images of the West to build its customer base. The brewery’s most popular western slogan was, “The Western Way to Say Welcome” which they introduced in the 1950’s to promote their A-1 beer. They contracted with Lon to submit a series of paintings for their ad campaign. Shown here is “Cowboy’s Dream”. It has been said that it could be one of the most important pieces of Western art in American history today, and is the first in a series of four paintings completed for the beer ad campaign. I am told the originals have been appraised at $150,000 each. Cowboy’s Dream was completed in 1948 with many prints distributed and sold during the 50’s and 60’s which were considered the “Beer” prints.
As time marched on and the prints were no longer available for purchase, patrons would steal them off the walls of bars. Today if you see any of these prints, you will notice they are bolted to the walls for security.
A few years ago I was in a restaurant in southern Arizona and noticed some of the bar prints on their walls. In my conversation with the owner of the restaurant I mentioned I had always wanted to acquire a print of Cowboys Dream. Well, they say timing is everything. He told me a man had been in recently and told him he was reproducing the prints. He gave me the man’s business card and now I had a source. To my delight this man was more than just a source – he was Herman Dickson and he had researched for many years the life and times of Lon Megargee. Upon meeting, we realized we knew some of the same people. Herman and I felt a real kinship to each other and he made me an authorized dealer to sell the bar prints. I always look forward to meeting up with Herman as he has a lifetime of stories to tell.
So the good news is now you don’t have to wonder how you might get that print off the bar wall because you can contact me at WildHorseHeart DeSigns at 520-250-3920 and acquire your own print of Cowboy’s Dream.
I hope this has piqued your interest in the cowboy artist Lon Megargee and his paintings for A-1 Beer and others. Stay tuned for the next article in the series, “Black Bart”.