2014 Plein Air Invitational
When John Wesley Powell completed his second expedition down the canyons of the Colorado River in 1871, he invited artist Thomas Moran to join him on his explorations of the region surrounding the Grand Canyon. Moran’s artistic eye became the lens through which the US Congress first viewed scenic wonders such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Zion, and his murals became instrumental in the formation of the National Park system to protect these national treasures.
The attraction between artists and the national parks was love at first site, and the relationship has
been renewed in recent years with the emergence of painting exhibitions such as the Zion National Park
Plein Air Invitational. This annual event, now in its sixth year, has become a showcase for two-dozen of America’s best landscape painters, converging on the park in early November to celebrate Zion’s stunning scenery.
Well-known painters such as George Handrahan, Roland Lee and John Cogan conducted demonstrations, participated in lectures and sold paintings fresh from the easel to help raise money for the Zion National Park Foundation. Hundreds of art collectors and nature lovers enjoyed the activities, and more than 100 original paintings found new homes. Each day of this year’s invitational provided gorgeous scenery, and most afternoons had temperatures in the mid- 70’s. November is a wonderful time to visit Zion! You’ll have to wait another year for the next art invitational, but top-notch galleries such as Springdale’s LaFave and Worthington remain open throughout the year. And remember, the beauty in and around Zion National Park is always on display!