Theater & Arts

Prominent Fresno artist Mary Maughelli, 79, dies

The Bee photographed Mary Maughelli in 2006 for her “Persistent Images” show at the Tulare Historical Museum.
The Bee photographed Mary Maughelli in 2006 for her “Persistent Images” show at the Tulare Historical Museum. Fresno Bee file

Mary Maughelli, a founding member of Gallery 25 and a prominent name in the Fresno art scene for more than 50 years, died over the weekend. She was 79.

Ms. Maughelli died sometime Saturday night at St. Agnes Medical Center, said friend Erma Jones. She was being treated for a variety of issues, including a recurrence of cancer.

Jones had been helping to plan an 80th birthday celebration for the artist on Nov. 20.

Ms. Maughelli, a professor emerita at Fresno State, taught in the university’s art department from 1962 to 1998. She kept busy after retirement, opening exhibitions of new work as a member of both Gallery 25 and Fig Tree Gallery, along with many other local galleries.

Her works in solo and group exhibitions were seen nationally and around the world, including Osaka, Japan, and Yerevan, Armenia. Recent shows included the 2012 “Wish You Were Here 10” exhibition at the A.I.R.Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the 2011 “Evocative Images” at Gallery 25.

She was a prominent feminist artist and contemporary of Judy Chicago, with whom she taught at Fresno State. Ms. Maughelli was invited by Chicago to show her work in the opening exhibition at the Womanspace gallery in Los Angeles, which opened in 1973. She also exhibited her work at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles in the ’70s and late ’80s.

Ms. Maughelli described herself as a mixed-media painter. She used collage on paper and wood panels that deal with the human female figure and identity. Often her art was about art, with Botticelli’s iconic “Birth of Venus” and Titian’s “Venus and the Cappadocia Virginone” among her inspirations.

She loved drawing figures in motion.

Ms. Maughelli was included in the prestigious book “California Society of Printmakers: One Hundred Years, 1913-2013.”

Jones said Ms. Maughelli’s family is meeting later this week to decide on services.