“Waters of Evening”
30 x 40 in.

         Twenty-four invited artists will paint in Zion Canyon during the week of November 7-13, 2016, celebrating the role art played in the creation of the park. This year’s eighth annual Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational is being billed as the “Centennial Edition,” celebrating the influence of original art in the founding of the National Park Service one hundred years ago.

         Among this year’s selected artists are long-standing favorites, a few who have been away for a while, as well as six brand new artists to the event. There are 16 oil painters, three watercolor artists, two who work in acrylic, and three pastel artists. This year’s featured artist, selected as last year’s Foundation Award Winner, is John Cogan of Farmington, New Mexico. Cogan’s new painting, “Waters of Evening” is featured in this year’s advertising and promotional materials.

         As part of this year’s “Centennial Edition” of Plein Air, each artist is invited to submit one studio painting of a national park other than Zion. Those paintings, along with one other studio painting by each artist, will hang in the Zion Human History Museum beginning September 14 through the end of the Plein Air Week in November. The studio paintings are on sale as soon as they are hung. The plein air paintings produced during Plein Air Week will go on sale Friday evening, November 11, at an invitation only preview event for art buyers. Then, beginning Saturday morning at 9 am, the show opens to the public and remains open, 9 am to 5 pm through November 28, 2016.

         Keeping with tradition, each artist will give a free one-hour painting demonstration during the week, on the patio of the Zion Human History Museum. Visitors may also interact with artists throughout the week as they paint at various locations in the canyon.

         Saturday of Plein Air Week has become one of the most fascinating days of the year in the park as all 24 artists participate in a “Paint Out” and sale which is held up-canyon on the lawn of the Zion Lodge. Between 11 am and 2 pm, visitors can watch each of the artists paint in fairly close proximity and if their heart settles on a particular painting, they can put their name on it and claim it for purchase, even before it is completed. In the meantime, a silent auction of the paintings produced for the demonstrations during the week will be ongoing in the Lodge Auditorium. When the bell rings, each painting goes to the highest bidder on the bid sheet.

         This year’s Centennial Edition of Plein Air will also feature a special slate of free lectures on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, as well as a Friday morning presentation by Zion Canyon Field Institute Director Michael Plyler on the role of art in the creation of the National Parks.

         If you can only spend a few days, or even one day, in Zion National Park this year, make plans for that visit in early November when the air is inspiringly crisp, the leaves are golden, and the artists are at work.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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