Mary Chadwell's distinctive miniature paintings have been shown in countless exhibits in Nevada and across the United States, including the Smithsonian Institution. Her skills as a miniaturist, including resilient eyesight, dexterity, and patience, are reflected in still lifes including locales ranging from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake to Lamoille Canyon and in studies of Nevada characters.
Born in 1914, Chadwell grew up in Utah; her father was employed with the railroad until the family moved to Gerlach, Nevada, in 1933, after her high school graduation. The origins of her art are lodged in her early memories: sculpting with plasticine clay at the age of eight and harsh criticism of a painting of snapdragons that her teacher described as a "blob of nothing." During her junior year in high school, however, Chadwell was recognized as the "most promising artist," for which she received a box of oil paints.
Chadwell began studying painting seriously in 1963, first with Dr. Raymond Brose (San Jose State College) and later with Jim McCormick (University of Nevada, Reno). Chadwell continued to sharpen her skills in workshops conducted by California artists Richard Yip (1919-1981), George Post (1906-1997) and Dong Kingman (1911-2000). Chadwell was recognized in 1995 when her delicate oil on ivory portrait titled "Everen," at a mere 3 3/8" x 2 3/8", won Best of Show out of 740 entries in the 1995 Miniature Art Society of Florida national exhibition. Though her final product is small, Chadwell says, "It takes just as many hours and as much work to do a miniature as a full size painting, because I use a very small brush."
Chadwell is associated with a number of art organizations in the Reno area, notably the Artists Co-operative of Reno where she has been featured in numerous solo and two-person exhibitions. She has also had lengthy affiliations with the Latimer Art Club, National League of Penwomen, and Nevada Art Association. She is one of ten founding members of the Miniature Artists of America.