• South Window

    Arches

    National Park Utah

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Community Artist - A Day in the Life

You’ve already let everyone know where you’ll be today since your schedule has been available at the park, on the park website, and on CNHA’s website for quite some time. You are scheduled to be at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint in Arches at 9:00 am. After showing the entrance station staff your volunteer sticker, you swing by the visitor center at 8:30 am and display your sandwich board, which you have updated with today’s location and time information. This makes it easy for folks to find you, especially those who haven’t heard of the program prior to their arrival (which is most of them). You pick up a park radio and say a quick hello to the NPS staff at the information desk, letting them know where you’ll be and that you’d love it if they sent visitors your way.

You drive to the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, apply sunscreen, grab your gear for the day, and find your location (don’t forget your water bottle and remember to use it). You set up the second sandwich board with updated information. You greet visitors as you are walking around, letting them know what you are up to and inviting them to ask questions. You find a vantage point that gives you what you need for a great piece of art, but isn’t in the way of the visitor experience (getting the “classic” photograph, reading signs, taking in the views). You are visible to those who are interested in talking with you, but not intrusive to those who aren’t. You keep your work area tidy, but set things up in a way that makes it clear that you are the Community Artist in the Parks and you are “open for business.” You seek to facilitate the visitor’s ability to view this special place through an artistic lense. You are approachable and ready for anything!

You are comfortable with visitors asking you questions while you are creating your artwork. These questions range from “why are you doing that?” to “is there a reason you chose blue there and not green?” to “where is the bathroom?” You explain your artistic process and what about this place inspires you to anyone who is interested. You share basic information regarding the flora, fauna, geography, geology. You give people good directions to where they want to go because you know the area well and are as excited to be at the Park as they are.

You finish up your artwork at the scheduled time, and continue to talk with anyone interested as you pack up your things and the sandwich board. You grab a quick snack and drive back to the visitor center at the pre-arrange time. You set up a simple display in front of the CNHA store to show the day’s work and to discuss the products you have available for sale in the store. You make it clear that your art products are for sale but you’re not over-the-top in your enthusiasm to make a sale. Your primary focus is the connection between parks, people and art. You continue to explain your artistic process, direct folks to the restrooms, etc. for the duration of your stint at the visitor center. When your shift is over, you put the visitor center sandwich board back in its prope place and head home for the day.

Did You Know?

John Wesley Wolfe

In the late 1800s, John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, built a homestead in what is now Arches National Park. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 10 years.