Ed Mell, the renowned Arizona landscape painter and sculptor, has agreed to create the trophies for the inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance. The concours will take place at the Arizona Biltmore Resort on Jan. 12, 2014.

An Arizona native whose distinctive modernist style and vision have made him one of the state’s most beloved artists, Mell is creating the trophies for the Arizona Concours using a unique approach that is typical of his individualistic work, and which reflects the Art Deco atmosphere of the Arizona Biltmore: A futuristic 1930s toy car from his personal collection is being used as the model for the trophies, which will be cast in bronze for the top awards and resin for the other prizes.

“I think it’s most appropriate because it’s not a contemporary artist doing his vision of what a ’30s car should look like; it’s a true toy car done in that period with a toy designer’s vision,” said Mell, a nationally recognized artist whose work is displayed in art museums and major collections. “It’s not any particular (brand of) car, and I think it’s going to be beautiful.”

The Arizona Concours, a premium luxury event that starts up Arizona’s famous collector-car auction week, takes place on the elegant landscaped lawns of the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. An expected 75-80 exceptional automobiles will compete in classes that range from vintage and classic to sports, racing and exotics. The honored marques for the first annual Concours are Packard and Maserati, which celebrates its centennial during 2014.

The Arizona Concours trophies are being cast at Bollinger Atelier, a foundry in Tempe, Arizona, and the bases are being crafted by Phoenix artist and furniture-maker Kevin Irvin, Mell said.

“The trophy is not big. It’s not ostentatious,” Mell said. “It’s a trophy you can put on your desk, which is kind of cool.”

Mell is a longtime automotive enthusiast who has been associated with Arizona’s famed road-rally event, the annual Copperstate 1000, since it started 24 years ago. He created the rally’s trophies and produces special paintings that are used for the Copperstate’s official posters. Mell also takes part in the Arizona touring event with one of his own collector cars, which include a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette, 1963 Buick Riviera and his recently acquired 1972 DeTomaso Pantera, which he intends to drive in the 2014 edition of the Copperstate.

“Being a guy who’s always liked automobiles and appreciated them, I think it’s exciting that they’re having a concours here, and fun to be involved with,” Mell said. “I think it’s long overdue, really. It’s very exciting for me, and I don’t have to drive to Pebble Beach.”

Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines, will serve as host and emcee for the inaugural Arizona Concours. One of the nation’s premier concours judges, John Carlson, serves as Chief Judge for the concours competition, leading teams of top judges who will pick the class winners as well as the coveted Best of Show.

The inaugural Arizona Concours serves as a charity event, with proceeds benefitting Make-A-Wish Arizona, the founding chapter of the national organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. For more information about Make-A-Wish Arizona, see www.wishaz.org. 

The inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance starts up Arizona’s famous collector-car auction week with a luxury event of style and elegance. For tickets, entries and more information, see www.ArizonaConcours.com.

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