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Mark Rownd, Max Ernst abstracts on display at Sedona City Hall

Originally Published: September 28, 2019 7:01 p.m.

Through the end of December, Mark Rownd’s abstract paintings will be on display at Sedona City Hall.

Rownd has a collection of works by Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning also on display. Concurrently, abstract painter Harold Schifman is exhibiting Five Decades of Art. The public is invited to meet Rownd and Schifman at a reception Oct. 30, 4 to 6 p.m., in the Sedona City Council Chambers at 102 Roadrunner Dr. Jazz guitarist Tony DiMito will be the musical guest.

Rownd’s formative years as an abstract painter began decades ago as an art student in college. The abstract expressionist movement was a major influence on his early understanding of formal elements of color, form and scale.

At the same time, he pursued an interest in music and expanded his musical studies to include tonal percussion and piano. The intersection of those early beginnings has continued to inform his art and music to this day.

“After moving here, the local art history of Sedona became a serious interest and I began researching in earnest the local history of the famous surrealists Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning who lived and created art in Sedona in the 1940s and 50s,” says Rownd. To teach others about this time period in Sedona’s past, he has helped organize several exhibitions with examples of their artwork from his own collection.

The shimmering landscape of Sedona has a little-known place in the history of the 20th-century modern art movement in America. When Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning retreated from New York to the remote outpost of Sedona in 1946 to build a small home and studio among the red rocks, it sparked a very productive creative period in both of their artistic careers. Max and Dorothea traveled by car from Sedona to New York eight times over the ensuing years, towing a trailer filled with artworks bound for exhibition.

The art they created here was shown in prominent galleries and museums on the east coast, and continues to be shown in important museums around the world to this day. In 2018 a retrospective of Max’s artwork was held at the Museum of Modern Art and in 2019 a major retrospective of Dorothea’s art was held at the Tate Modern in London.

Beyond the recognition of the artworks themselves, many prominent artists and friends of Max and Dorothea from around the globe traveled to the tiny community of Sedona to visit them during the time they lived here. Artist friends who journeyed here included Marcel Duchamp, Dylan Thomas, Man Ray, Lee Miller and Roland Penrose, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Copley, Sonja Sekula, Yves Tanguy and Kay Sage, Frederick Sommer and others.

Among the first pieces Max created after moving to Sedona in 1946 was a series of miniscule paintings he called microbes. Examples of artwork by Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning presented by Mark Rownd are on display at Sedona City Hall, including numerous examples of Max’s microbes that were published in Life Magazine in January 1952, which brought national attention to his artworks from Sedona. Additionally, several abstract paintings by Mark Rownd will also be on display.

Sedona Arts and Culture Coordinator Nancy Lattanzi says, “Many who know Mark in this community, know he has a strong passion and an expansive knowledge for the work of Ernst and Tanning. Beyond that, he has incredible stories he shares about where specific artworks have been exhibited in the past and the prices their artworks now command at auction.

He recently discovered that Max and Dorothea were at Rice University to see Max’s retrospective entitled, Inside the Sight, the same year Mark began art school there in 1973. Astonishingly, Mark discovered that Max exhibited Forest and Sun (56) at Sedona Art Center’s opening exhibit of the Art Barn in 1961 which was the piece Mark had featured in his exhibition of their artwork in the same Art Barn at SAC in 2014.

All this is not to overshadow Mark as a skilled abstract painter himself with his work on display as well.»

The City Hall Art Rotation exhibits are located in the Sedona Council Chambers, as well as the gallery in the Vultee Conference Room on the city hall campus. To make an appointment for best viewing time contact Nancy Lattanzi at 928-203-5078 or email NLattanzi@SedonaAZ.gov.