2015 Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational


Monday, November 2


10:00 am – Gregory Stocks – oil

11:00 am – Royden Card – acrylic

12:00 pm – Jim Wodark – oil

1:00 pm – Bruce Gomez – pastel

2:00 pm -Ron Larson – oil

3:00 pm – Hadley Rampton – oil

Tuesday, November 3


10:00 am – Brad Holt – oil

11:00 am – Cody DeLong – oil

12:00 pm – Suze Woolf – watercolor

1:00 pm – Julia Seelos – oil

2:00 pm – Steven Hill – pastel

3:00 pm – Hai-Ou Hou – oil


7:00 pm –  James Aton – The Art and Life of Jimmie Jones

Wednesday, November 4


10:00 am – George Handrahan – oil

11:00 am – John Cogan – acrylic

12:00 pm – John Lintott – oil

1:00 pm – Rachel Pettit – oil

2:00 pm – Roland Lee – watercolor

3:00 pm – Nancy Lewis – pastel


7:00 pm – Zion Canyon Artist in Residence – Earnest Ward: art journalist, Fort Worth TX

Thursday, November 5


10:00 am – Bill Cramer – oil

11:00 am – Cancelled

12:00 pm – James McGrew – oil

1:00 pm – Michelle Condrat – oil

2:00 pm – Susiehyer – oil

3:00 pm – Richard Lindenberg – oil


7:00 pm –  Kate Starling, Plein Air Painting: A Personal Approach

Friday, November 6

11:00 am –  LECTURE: Michael Plyler, In Search of Thomas Moran – Zion Human History Museum Patio

7:00 pm – Art Patrons Preview and Purchase Awards Presentation – by invitation only

Saturday, November 7

9:00 am to 6:00 pm – Public Wet Paint Exhibit and Sale – Zion Human History Museum

11:00 am to 2:00 pm – Paint Out and Sale – Zion Lodge Lawn

11:00 am to 1:00 pm – Silent Auction of paintings from the week’s demonstrations – Zion Lodge Auditorium

Sunday, November 8

9:00 am to noon – Artist Quick Finish Painting – Zion Human History Museum – watch artists paint as a group with a time limit

9:00 am to 2:00 pm – Public Wet Paint Exhibit and Sale – Zion Human History Museum

~ Plein Air events are free – Park entry fee not included ~

~ 7:00 Evening lectures held in the Zion Lodge Auditorium ~

~ Demonstrations on the Zion Human History Museum patio ~

~ Have questions? Call 435-772-3264 or 1-800-635-3959  ~

~ Event proceeds benefit youth education and art programs in Zion National Park ~

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George W. Handrahan – Inside His Head and Heart

Anticipating the upcoming Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational, we hoped to share some inside thoughts and views from a participating artist in the invitational. We had a conversation with George Handrahan about painting plein air in Zion. We were pleased to not only get into his thoughts, but he opened his heart to share his feelings.

George Handrahan_2_edited-1What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to paint plein air in Zion Canyon for several days in early November?

“Zion National Park has some of the most unique and visually interesting rock formations, water features, foliage and atmosphere in the world. To be able to paint with twenty-four truly exceptional and gifted artists for a week in the fall, when leaves and light are at their best, is a landscape painter’s dream come true. I love to paint Zion National Park!”

What is it about the red rock country of southern Utah that draws you as a painter?

“How do you make a rock more interesting? Color it. The same applies to paintings with rocks, they are more interesting when the rocks are more colorful. Red Rock Country is just that – more colorful.”

 Does any particular place in Zion inspire you more than another? Or is there anything particularly inspiring for you in Zion?

“I am drawn to Kolob Canyon, with its open views of spectacular rock formations and trees. I’m also inspired by the Virgin River, in Zion Canyon, with its lazy sweeping bends and brilliant colorful reflections. It’s all so good that it is hard to single out just a few spots, but for me these two have a slight edge on all the places”.

What do you enjoy most about the Zion Plein Air Event, and why?

“I think for me the people are the highlight of this event. I have made friends with many artists, collectors and local art lovers. I enjoy sharing conversations and ideas about art with them. This is what makes the Zion Plein Air Invitational so fun for me”.

What are the challenges and rewards of painting plein air?

“The landscape is constantly changing which makes it challenging to capture the moment. I think most artists would agree with that. The rewarding part of Plein Air Painting for me is when I capture, on canvas, the essence and mood of the scene. Not so much a visual duplication, but instead an emotional response to what I see and feel. That is what it is really all about”.

Other thoughts you’d like to share…

“I am grateful and blessed to be able to do what I do and I truly appreciate the “behind the scenes” people that work so hard, without the recognition they deserve, to make events like this successful. My thanks and appreciation to all of them.”

George Handrahan, a native of Utah, was raised in the rural community of South Weber. It was in this environment where he came to love and appreciate the diverse natural landscape surrounding him, taking every opportunity to spend time out of doors.

His paintings invite the viewer to see, in a unique way, color they might otherwise have missed, to sense a mood frequently ignored, and to share in the beauty of a transient time and place.

Painting: Cloud Burst  – Oil by George Handrahan. Call 435-772-3264 for more information about this painting and other pieces now on exhibit and for sale at the Zion Human History Museum  until November 8, 2015.


Find Your Park


By Lyman Hafen

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
~Marcel Proust

When I was growing up in St. George, Utah, in the 1960s, our town park was just three blocks up the street from my house.  We called it The City Park.  And that’s exactly what it was.  Although we weren’t exactly a city at the time.  It was a full square block of open space covered by a bright green carpet of grass and shaded by a canopy of countless towering trees.  On that block was the municipal swimming pool, tennis courts, an artfully designed barbecue area, swing sets, slides, a merry-go-round and teeter-totters.  It was a kids’ paradise and you could play there on a summer day from sun-up to sun-down, breathing in the magical moistness of that cool green carpet at your feet, running and rolling and yelling and shading up for a rest with a sharp blade of grass between your chapped lips — until your mom drove up and called out from the car window, reminding you of your chores still unfinished at home.

As a kid, you had no idea of the financing, the politics or the foresight that went into preserving and maintaining that special place in the middle of town.

It was just there.  Yours for the taking.  A kind of birthright.

I remember our family driving through Zion National Park when I was very young.  Dad would have been behind the wheel of our turquoise Ford Fairlane.  Mom in the front seat with him.  And my little sister and I would have been up on our knees (in the days before seat belts), wide-eyed, in the back seat taking it all in.  As we passed through Springdale I remember watching the buildings pass by, the houses, the motels, the curio shops and the service stations.  And I remember the feel of my father’s fingers under my chin as he reached his arm back over the seat and lifted my point of view from ground level up and up to the towering sandstone ledges of the canyon and even further up to where the high horizon broke against the purple sky.  Along that stark skyline I saw for the first time the turrets, towers and spires of those magnificent castles in the clouds.

Even today, a half-century later, I still feel my little-boy heart swelling in my chest.

“Whose place is this?” I asked my dad as we drove up the switchbacks in the canyon.

“It’s yours and it’s mine,” he answered.  “It belongs to every American.”

Though I didn’t understand it then, that was my introduction to the concept of public space.  To the idea of parks set aside for the benefit of all.  I took that concept for granted much of my life.

Perhaps when it finally hit home for me was the day I rode an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City.  From the viewing deck near the top of that amazing building, I looked up and down Manhattan Island and saw perhaps the greatest concentration of human activity on earth.  I was overwhelmed by the mass of humanity in such tight quarters.  And then my eyes settled on the giant rectangle of green in the middle of that island – Central Park.  A sigh escaped from deep inside me as I considered the beauty and tranquility of that awesome open space smack in the middle of such a gray and dense metropolis.

I smiled at the thought of the foresight of whoever it was who proposed such a place, and winced at the thought of how hard it must have been to pull off such a feat.  Somewhere along the way, someone, or a group of someones, had to stick their necks out, risk their reputations, and fight the battles, to make sure someday, when that island was completely covered with multi-storied buildings, there would still remain an open section of land in the middle of it — a park — that would heighten the quality of life and contribute to the sanity of everyone who lived or worked in the city.

What a concept.

Here in southwestern Utah we’re blessed that so many of our citizens, leaders and elected officials have understood this concept over the years.  They’ve been willing to stick their necks out, put their reputations on the line, and fight for the kinds of parks and open space we enjoy today.  From that old City Park in my boyhood neighborhood, to Zion National Park, we are the beneficiaries of scores of public spaces, including municipal, state and national parks.  From ballfields to hiking parks, from desert reserves to petroglyph sites.  From pickle ball courts to horseshoe pits to river walks and picnic spots.  From Zion to Parashant to Pipe Spring and Cedar Breaks.  From Snow Canyon to Sand Hollow to the trail heads in Pine Valley.  You’d be hard pressed to find a greater or more diverse number of developed, maintained and well managed parks and open spaces anywhere on earth.

It’s the same across the Colorado Plateau.  In fact, the whole world is coming here to experience the public places in our backyard.  Since Presidents’ Day Weekend this year, Zion National Park and the entire Colorado Plateau region have been flooded by visitors.  On any given day since March, the visitor traffic in the Zion Canyon gateway community of Springdale, has been nonstop from daylight until well after dark.  For years the state travel office and the county convention bureau have been promoting St. George, Springdale and Zion as a destination, and this spring and summer it appears as if the world has truly gotten the memo.

For those of us who live here, it’s getting a little more difficult all the time to share our backyard with the world.  Yet we depend dearly on visitors from across the country and around the globe to fuel our economy and make it possible for us to live here.

So how do we share it without losing the quality of life we treasure?  The French writer Marcel Proust might have answered that question when he said, “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”  Perhaps the answer is to look through new eyes at all the other wonderful public places in our midst besides the icons the world is coming to see.  Our list of best kept secrets is long.  One of them, little more than an hour from St. George, is Pipe Spring National Monument.  If you’ve never been there, it’s high time you go.  You’re almost guaranteed a parking spot.  And you’ll enjoy a renewal of spirit in that unique setting.  Same with Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It’s not much more than an hour-and-half from St. George.  I can’t imagine a more wonderful summer destination.  Just like that you’re at 10,000 feet, looking down into one of the most impressive gorges on Earth – not to mention the energizing quality of the pine-scented air.

The list goes on, all across the Plateau.  From Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah to Montezuma Castle National Monument in Central Arizona.  From Hovenweep to Wupatki. From Aztec Ruins to Chaco.  From Canyon de Chelly, to Walnut Canyon.  In 2016, the National Park Service celebrates its Centennial.  The theme for that celebration is: “Find Your Park.”  You might think the iconic national parks are the only places to go – the places you have to go — yet here on the Colorado Plateau there are countless wonderful public spaces you can and should connect with.  The secret is to look about you with new eyes.

– Photo Cedar Breaks Sunset. Courtesy NPS, Cedar Breaks National Monument.

2015 Concrete to Canyons – First Experiences

Do you remember the first time that you saw a waterfall? Last week, Sam, a Las Vegas fifth grade student participating in Zion’s Concrete to Canyons program, looked up at Mystery Falls along Zion’s Narrows and proclaimed his joy and pride at this first experience. He was part of a group of 22 students from Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy and Rainbow Dreams Academy who are camping for two nights and participating in three days of curriculum-based programming in Zion’s main canyon. After five weeks of the program, nearly 150 students, parent chaperons, and teachers will have participated. Aided by a partnership with two other NPS units, Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Parashant National Monument, Zion is hosting this award-winning program for the third year due to the support of the Zion National Park Foundation and generous contributions.

The program is life-changing for some of the students who have never put up a tent, witnessed a deer grazing, hiked a scenic trail, or gazed at stars in the night sky. During Dinosaur Discovery, the students travel back 200-million years in imaginary time machines and meet some of Zion’s earliest animal inhabitants and then make a cast of a dinosaur track to take home. After visiting with past life, they fast forward to the time of the Native Puebloans, finding survival by pretending to hunt for deer by throwing spears at targets, and finding yuccas to make sandals and rope. On the second day of adventuring, the students start with a shuttle ride to Weeping Rock to learn about water, rocks, and time. Then while hiking to Big Bend, students identify habitats by looking from the river to the high plateaus, and discover animals that inhabit each of Zion’s rich zones of life. Based on the weather forecast, the final day of the trip includes a challenge hike into the Narrows to Mystery Falls, or a hike along the Kayenta Trail to the Middle Emerald Pools. For many of the students this is the highlight of the trip, including a glimpse at the famous Zion Snail.

C2C3_C to C_Hiking_L Kirkham_NPS_395k_300x450_72dpiThe Concrete to Canyons partnership team has been delighted to receive stories from past participants sharing what the trip meant to them:

Zion National Park, what a place. My favorite part was the river. I felt like I was on another planet in the river. It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen or experienced. Out there I was so relaxed and calm on a peaceful river bank. I was so relieved of all my stress; I was in my own world. Zion was the best experience of my 10 year-old life!    Lemetraonia

I enjoyed seeing deer at the campsite. When they came, I was afraid at first, but then I saw that they weren’t going to hurt me, they only wanted a bite to eat. My experience was great, and my favorite experience was seeing animals in their natural habitats, something that I never saw before.     Melody

I loved everything:, the campfire, the stars, the bats, and the mule deer. It was such an experience that I can’t even pick the best, because everything was awesome! I love Zion!     Noah    

C2C15_C to C_Hiking_L Kirkham_NPS_395k_300x450_72dpiInstead of just a one-time event, the program is designed to help connect underserved youth with nature and foster life-long interest in national parks and the outdoors. After participating in the program at Zion, the students travel to Lake Mead National Recreation Area for a stewardship-day later in the year. The following summer at Zion, all participants and their families are invited to the park for a camping weekend. Finally, NPS partners have invited the families to join a nature club back in Las Vegas to continue to explore outdoor areas.

In 2014, the partnership team won the NPS Director’s Wes Henry National Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Award for this program to engage underserved youth in making life-long connections to national parks. Donations to the Zion National Park Foundation have provided Sam’s first sight of a waterfall and new connections for over 400 urban families during the last three years. What a contribution!

Your donation helps create the next generation of park stewards and helps children and their families connect to the magnificent natural world at Zion National Park through the Youth Education Initiative.

Article by Barb Graves, Education Specialist, Zion National Park

Photos courtesy of Liz Kirkham-Sodja, Zion Education Technician