By Kristin Hoerth
Fall is such a wonderfully busy time of year in the art world. It seems like nearly every weekend there’s an important show taking place, and I wish I could clone myself many times over so that I could attend them all. In September I covered quite a few miles (even without the cloning), first heading to Indianapolis for the opening weekend of the Eiteljorg Museum’s Quest for the West, and then to Arizona for the second annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, where I served as one of the judges.
The Celebration of Art is still a relatively small event, with a dedicated group of organizers behind it and a great group of 30 artists who build camaraderie during the five days they spend painting in the canyon leading up to the show. The public festivities begin with a Quick Draw on Friday morning, when there’s plenty of time to talk with the artists while they work at their easels along the rim. That’s where I found P.A. Nisbet—as you can see by my snapshot, he’d picked what seemed to me like an especially precarious spot to work. I complimented him on the presentation he’d given to fellow artists the previous night, which I had arrived too late to attend but had heard was terrific.
Nisbet had shown numerous slides of photos and paintings he’s made of the canyon over the years. His goal, he told me, was to encourage people to spend time looking at this particular natural wonder. “The more time you spend looking at this place, the better you understand it, and the more you appreciate it,” he said. “And the more you appreciate it, the more you will work to make sure that nothing ever happens to destroy it.”
Painters and other artists probably spend more time really looking at—carefully studying—scenic spots than anyone else. (Certainly they spend more time than some of the tourists along the rim, who seemed interested only in taking the obligatory photos of each other posing in front of the chasm, then moving along to the gift shops.) Once the event drew to a close on Saturday morning, I stayed on at the canyon and had some time to spend absorbing the landscape for myself. I watched the bracing afternoon light turn softer as the sun went down; I watched the colors turn from cool gray to warm yellow as the sun rose the next morning. I think I understand a little bit more. -November 2010