It’s fitting that Fort Worth painter Josephine Mahaffey’s nickname is “The Texas Dynamo.” A prolific, enthusiastic painter, she would slather watercolors on almost any surface that wasn’t moving. Paper sacks, note pads, pieces of wood, pages torn from the Yellow Pages, it didn’t matter – if she didn’t have a canvas available, most anything would serve as a fitting substitute.
Sometimes, as the legend goes, she would paint two paintings at once with a brush in each hand. As a result, her works are abundant but still coveted by local collectors who appreciated her bright colors and dizzying variety of subjects and styles.
Her prolific nature worked against her for years, in a field where over-production can sometimes curtail collectibility.
“Josephine Mahaffey has a big place — bigger maybe than people want to give her — in Fort Worth art,” local collector A.C. “Ace” Cook said. “She is an interesting person and extremely talented. She used the talent loosely because she produced so much work that she didn’t bear down like maybe a real serious artist might because she had to produce so much work. Primarily that’s the way she fed her family. I don’t know that she had the time to sit down and turn out some masterpieces.”
Her rapid-fire nature of production has made some local collectors take her for granted. That appears to be changing in recent years as more of her works have found their way into collections and exhibitions.
“If you are a Fort Worth collector you’d have to consider her as an artist you would want in your collection — I see merit in all of her work,” Cook said.
Mahaffey studied under legendary Fort Worth art teacher Sallie Blythe Mummert. Later she became an art instructor herself at the Woman’s Club of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Art Center.
The mother of eight children died in 1982.
“Remembering Josephine Mahaffey: The Texas Dynamo” is a new exhibit that features a wide array of her works. The show runs through July 30 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.
An opening reception is at 6 p.m. tonight.