The Niagara County art scene lost a talented artist and instructor last November when watercolorist Michael J. McMahon passed away after a lengthy illness.
Members of the Lewiston Council on the Arts were approached by several of Mike's friends - led by Sue Sullivan, owner of Sue's Frame of Mind, and Cheryl Ferguson, Mike's partner - who offered donations and asked for help in creating and presenting a special watercolor award in his honor. This year, at the Lewiston Art Festival (Aug. 11-12), the first Michael J. McMahon Watercolor Award will be presented.
Although Mike's last appearance in the Lewiston Art Festival was in 2013, he participated every year beginning in 1971, when he exhibited pen and ink drawings as a talented 14 year old who often went home with a prize in the watercolor category. He was a juried member of the Buffalo Society of Artists and Niagara Frontier Water Color Society and exhibited in many galleries and art shows across Western New York and Southern Ontario. Mike shared his talent as a gifted teacher, inspiring many young people to take up watercolor.
Mike loved to paint scenes of the Niagara River and the sailboats he was so familiar with as a resident of Youngstown, and an employee at the Yacht Club in his younger years. He also painted bucolic landscapes, old houses and barns, capturing the textures and atmospheres of all four seasons. Coastal New England and floral still-life were also favorite subjects. His work is in many private collections across the country and in Europe and Asia.
"At his best, Mike was as good as anybody," said Rick Gworek, a friend and admirer of Mike's work. "And he was as colorful a personality as his artwork."
Donations toward this award can be made to the Lewiston Council on the Arts, P.O. Box 1, Lewiston, NY, 14092, and will fund future prizes.