Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Various locations, September 17-28
This story was featured in the September 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
More than a decade ago, a cadre of landscape painters banded together to create the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters. The organization’s founders were intent on increasing public awareness of, and enthusiasm for, painting in the open air amid the spectacular scenery of the Rocky Mountain region. In 2001 it seemed appropriate that the organization hold its first paint-out and show in Rocky Mountain National Park.
This month the group’s members return to the scene of that first show to join the celebration of the park’s 100th birthday. The centennial celebration, held in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Nature Conservancy, brings together 24 plein-air painters for a paint-out in the park September 17-24. The artists spread out across the craggy mountains, hidden lakes, and meadows, which serve as habitat for creatures great and small. The works that the artists create on location in the park are then on display at the Fall River Visitor Center beginning at noon on Thursday, September 25. A gala reception and sale takes place at 6 p.m. “This event feels like a sort of home- coming,” says the group’s president, Stephen C. Datz. “To be returning for such an auspicious occasion, and at such a gorgeous time of year, is an absolute thrill. The efforts of artists played a critical role in the establishment of the park. It is a deep honor to be able to continue in that tradition and use our craft in the service of the park and its supporters.”
The tradition Datz refers to goes back to the 19th century, when artists such as Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt began to immortalize the panoramic landscapes of Yosemite and the Rocky Mountains on canvas. The paintings caught the attention of the public and government officials, eventually inspiring the creation of the country’s national park system.
Group member Cydney Springer, who is participating in this month’s show, is one of the artists carrying on Moran and Bierstadt’s legacy. Springer lives in Estes Park, a town located on the edge of the park, and she is a regular visitor in all seasons. Her two great passions in life, she proclaims, are the Rocky Mountains and painting them. “In the park, I feel the same wonder I did as a child wandering through the woods—seeing the way the light hits a tree, how a leaf curls, and the amazing history map on an aspen trunk,” she says. “It’s such perfection, even in its lack of perfection.”
In conjunction with the show, a Quick Draw takes place on Saturday, September 27, at 9 a.m. at the Moraine Park Discovery Center. The public is invited to watch the artists as they create a painting from start to finish. Visitors then have the opportunity to purchase the works in a fixed-price sale. Forty percent of the proceeds from sales during the events benefit the Rocky Mountain Nature Conservancy, which works in concert with the National Park Service to provide educational materials and scientific programs for park visitors. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the September 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art September 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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