Utah Bucket List: Violinist in tune with Zion National Park
"It is a wonderful experience for both the artists and the parks," said Christopher Gezon, visual-information specialist at Zion. "Artists get an opportunity to create in these places and to continue the relationship they have had with the parks before they were even founded. Visitors get a chance to hear beautiful music in a beautiful place or see the park through an artist’s eyes. It is extraordinary."
A place to live • Now-retired Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth took over Utah’s most popular park in 2003 and was surprised to find it was not part of the Artist-in-Residence program.
Video of artistSee a video of Rachel Panitch during her stay in Zion National Park while serving as an Artist-in-Residence. Click here to view a map she created, including audio clips of work inspired at locations around the park during her time in Zion: www.rachelpanitch.com/musical-map/
His first step was to find a place for an artist to live. An empty cabin in disrepair in Zion Canyon seemed a possibility. Originally used as the Zion visitor center in 1924, the building had become nothing but a storage shed.
Funds for refurbishing the cabin came from the National Park Service Centennial Initiative and other sources. On Feb. 5, 2010, Fort Worth, Texas, landscape artist Dennis Farris moved into the Grotto cabin.
Farris was not the first artist to find his muse in the redrock country of southern Utah.
Painting Zion • According to the Zion National Park website, one of the first paintings of the area came from Frederick S. Dellenbaugh during the second John Wesley Powell expedition of the Colorado River in 1871-1872. The work is in the Zion National Park museum collection.
Dellenbaugh, the park reports, returned to Zion in 1903 and made a series of paintings. The artist also wrote an article about what would become a national park for Scribner’s Magazine. His works of Zion were on display at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and "raised awareness about this majestic canyon and influenced some to petition for its protection as a national park," according to park literature.
By the mid-1920s, the Union Pacific Railroad was commissioning artists such as Howard Russell Butler to promote landscapes like those in Zion. His wall-size paintings of the park also are part the Zion museum collection.
Following the practice of having art created inside the park return to the park, participants in the Artist-in-Residence program are expected to provide Zion with something they created during their stay. Some of that work is on display at the Zion Human History Museum.
In Panitch’s case, the park will have rights to unlimited use of one her yet-to-be-determined pieces. She also will be able to use and sell copies of the same work. Discussion is still underway on how the public will be able to enjoy her music inside the park.
"Artists played a key role in the formation and preservation of the national parks," Gezon said. "They had an eye to promote to the public the idea of preserving these areas so people would be able to use them. Art helped focus that movement and artists still have a key role in sharing the importance of the these national treasures."
Panitch takes the responsibility seriously and hopes all the music she produced during her stay — and future work inspired by Zion — will move the people who hear it.
To share her experiences during the Zion stay, Panitch created a "musical map," complete with pictures, audio and what it was about that place that inspired her to produce the music.
"This is a chance to share music inspired by this place and get more people interested in coming to visit and learn more about Zion," Panitch said. "Hopefully, once here, they will find their own sanctuary, their own inspiration."
— Artists and the National Park Service O Zion National Park has the only national park Artist-in-Residence program in Utah. More than 50 national parks, monuments, seashores, preserves, historic sites and recreation areas have such programs, allowing visual artists, writers, musicians and other media creators to live in the parks while pursuing their work. Each park has its own program. Visitnwww.nps.gov/getinvolved/artist-in-residence.htm for applications and program information.
Artists and the National Park Service
O Zion National Park has the only national park Artist-in-Residence program in Utah. More than 50 national parks, monuments, seashores, preserves, historic sites and recreation areas have such programs, allowing visual artists, writers, musicians and other media creators to live in the parks while pursuing their work. Each park has its own program. Visitnwww.nps.gov/getinvolved/artist-in-residence.htm for applications and program information.