If Sherlock Holmes were an observer of the Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational, he might likely say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” But, if he could see the essential part Miriam Watson plays behind the scenes of the annual event, he would likely retract the statement. We visited with her about her role as Museum Curator for the plein air event.
We asked Miriam to tell us a little about her connection to the Plein Air Art Invitational as curator of the Zion Human History Museum. “I serve on the committee which selects the artists, and individually I am responsible for installing the studio exhibit, and providing artists what they need for the wet paint sale and gala.”
That is no small feat when working with 24 individual artists. She is responsible for hanging the pre-event studio show in the museum and is helpful in transforming the auditorium into an art gallery as more than 150 paintings produced during the week are hung for a gala reception and sale to invited guests and subsequently opens to the public for two more days.
We also asked Miriam what she enjoys most about her role as curator in conjunction with the event. Her quick cheerful response was, “I love working with the artists and getting to know them and seeing how their personalities play into their artwork.” A people person, Miriam has an exclusive opportunity to work closely with the artists and their work getting a unique view of them.
Finally, we asked how she feels her role helps make the event successful. Her unpretentious answer, “I do a lot of behind the scenes work to keep the show going. “
It’s not so “elementary” Miriam Watson! Her behind the scenes work not only includes being a member of the selection committee, but she also assists in the call for artists, coordinates the hanging and labeling of the art for the show, handles the artist contracts, and is part of the overall scene the Park plays as host to the event. Different divisions of park employees have many other hosting roles including construction of venues, signage and coordinating volunteers.
Miriam says her favorite part of the event is the paint out on Saturday. “It is seeing all of the artists painting on the Zion Lodge lawn at the same time. I find it fascinating to see all of the artists’ different interpretations of the same landscape and watching visitors’ faces light up with inspiration.”
Sherlock may say it is elementary, but ZNHA gives a big shout-out to Miriam, and all the Zion NPS staff and volunteers, who contribute in so many vital ways to make the plein air event a success.