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National Parks are an Incubator for Artists—Who Knew?

blog_caI just got back from an eight-day journey to Yreka and back, getting to meet and interview many incredible people.  One thing that stands out as unusual, but fascinating was the program at Whiskeytown, National Recreation Area.  It is the National Parks Artists-In-Residence Program at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area that offers established visual artists the opportunity to pursue their particular art form while being surrounded by the inspiring landscape of the park. The park provides a rustic cabin to participants for up to a four-week period.

I spoke with Sheila Edridge, the Artist-in-Residence Coordinator about the program.  Apparently, Whiskeytown is one of 29 National Parks and Recreation Areas that has an ongoing Artist-in-Residence program. The goal of the program is to invite professional artists to reside in the park for two to four weeks and produce works that are inspired by their stay. During the artists’ visit they provide a public demonstration and at the end of their stay they donate to the park an original piece of art that was inspired by their interpretation of the park’s environment and landscape.

This year Maria Medua, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists Gallery, juried the 2010 submissions. The selection process is based on artistic merit, the statement of intent, and appropriateness to a national park residency. The two artists chosen were Patricia Cummins from Miami, Florida, and Jacqueline Moses from Skokie, Illinois.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area will begin a partnership with The Shasta County Arts Council in 2010. “The goal of this partnership is to expand Whiskeytown’s Artist-in-Residence Program and create more opportunities for the public to interact with the artists,” says Whiskeytown superintendent Jim Milestone. “Whiskeytown provides the artists an outstanding opportunity to explore and interpret the special landscape of the forested slopes of Shasta Bally, the surrounding oak woodlands, the majestic waterfalls, and the clear blue waters of Whiskeytown Lake.”

What a great idea: Nature, beauty, and artists.  I’ll bet Ansel Adams wishes he thought about that.  Oh yeah, he did.

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