Thanks to the overwhelming support of so many friends of Zion, the 2014 Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational was a resounding success. Between November 3-9, twenty-four invited artists painted on location in the park, capturing the magnificence of the autumn light and color on canvas and paper. During the week they created more than 200 paintings, and on Friday evening, November 7, a tremendous art show was mounted in the Zion Nature Center. Art enthusiasts and buyers from across the country converged at the Nature Center for the Gala Opening on Friday evening and the public sale throughout the weekend. When the doors finally closed on Sunday and the artists packed up and started home, more than $160,000 in art sales had been consummated. Of that amount, 40 percent goes to the Zion National Park Foundation to support the park’s Youth Education Initiative and ongoing art programs in the park.
In addition to record art sales, a highlight of this year’s event was the well-attended one-hour painting demonstrations by each of the invited artists on the Zion Museum patio. As many as 120 people attended each of the demonstrations which caught the wonder of not only serious and casual artists, but also the general public who were fortunate enough to be in the park at the time. The free demonstrations are actually master classes in painting, the kind of instruction art students would pay hundreds of dollars to attend.
This year’s three evening lectures at the Zion National Park Lodge were also a great success, giving visitors a deeper understanding of the important place of art in the history of the park. A three-hour paint-out on the Lodge lawn on Saturday was attended by hundreds of visitors. Each of the invited artists completed at least one painting between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Buyers were able to purchase the painting of their choice while it was being created. Meanwhile, a silent auction occurred in the Lodge Auditorium featuring each of the paintings created during the demonstrations. The silent auction gave buyers a chance to score some fantastic deals on paintings by some of the best plein air painters in the world.
The event is made possible through the partnership of the Zion National Park Foundation, Zion National Park, the Zion Lodge and the surrounding communities. This year’s co-chairs included Jill Burt, Director of Operations and Development for the Foundation; Justin Hall, Zion National Park Archivist; and Sheri Taylor, manager of Splitrock Art Gallery in St. George. The entire ZNHA staff gets involved in the event, as well as many Zion National Park and Zion Lodge employees, and dozens of volunteers from the community.
As Zion National Park Foundation Executive Director Lyman Hafen put it, “This year’s plein air event exceeded all our goals and expectations. We were overwhelmed by the amount of support, both financial and hands-on, we received from so many people. This event is the perfect example of how a national park, a non-profit partner, and a community can partner for the good of a place we all love so much.”