2017 Artist Public Programs
Artists have long been a vital part of portraying the beauty and uniqueness of our national parks. At Great Sand Dunes, visual artists use both traditional and contemporary techniques to interpret this rugged, diverse landscape. Composers and writers have also been an important part of helping people form intellectual and emotional connections to this national park.
Artist programs and artist residency programs enhance visitor connections to the diverse resources of Great Sand Dunes, bringing multiple perspectives and creative visions to share with visitors from all over the world.
Proposals for 2018 programs and residencies will be accepted starting in November 2017. Check this page in fall for details!
Marilyn Feather will lead a wilderness photography workshop on Saturday, September 9, focusing on the wild, natural character of the park and preserve. The photographer has been an resident artist at a wide variety of national parks and wilderness areas, and her work has been exhibited nationally. View numerous photos on Marilyn Feather's website.
Lynette O'Kane will be Artist-in-Residence during the first half of November 2017. Her residency plan is uniquely tied to the natural hydrology of the dunes and San Luis Valley, and her visceral mixed-media paintings include textural elements of sand, plaster and stucco blended with images of the natural world. She will lead a mixed-media workshop for all ages, tying in dunes geology and hydrology. Learn more about Lynette O'Kane's work at lynetteokane.com.
David Boye has been a Composer-in-Residence at numerous national parks, writing and performing nature-inspired acoustic guitar music. He will perform a free concert at the Great Sand Dunes Amphitheater on Saturday, August 12 at 7pm! Listen to David Boye's "Waterfalls" on YouTube.
Visitor Center Fine Art Exhibit Space
With over 350,000 park visitors annually, many of whom come to the Visitor Center, exhibiting here provides significant exposure for an artist's work. The National Park Service's goal is to use this space to engage a wide variety of artists in sharing their unique, creative visions of the park and preserve, so that all visitors may be enriched by different creative perspectives on the park and its resources. The Visitor Center exhibit space is primarily devoted to fine art painting, mixed media, and photography specifically related to natural and cultural resources of the park and preserve. Its purpose is to complement the other more literal, science-oriented exhibits with interpretive views of park resources by a variety of people and media. See full description and guidelines for exhibiting your work in the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center (pdf file).
Artists at Great Sand Dunes 2009-2016
At Great Sand Dunes, we not only look ahead to cutting-edge art, but also back to historic photographic techniques in use as the first national parks were being established. Tintype photography is a 19th century photographic method that has been rekindled by professional photographer and teacher Mark Dawson. In October 2016, Mark led very popular informal public demonstrations at the Visitor Center of tintype photography and image processing, then on the following day led a free workshop for 7 participants in making their own images. View Mark Dawson's website to learn more about his work.
Internationally-known photographer Kiyomichi Koike, who produced the book Whispers from the Sand, led an insightful photographic journey into the dunes during a 2016 workshop. Koike is a master of both color and black and white landscape images. View some of Koike's photography.
Professional sculptor Dana Provence, professor at Adams State University in Alamosa, led a thought-provoking environmental art workshop along Medano Creek in summer 2016. Participants created temporary outdoor sculptures by designing and engaging with the natural materials found on the site. Learn more about Dana Provence's work.
Sculptor Joseph Fellows led 3D scanning and printing demonstrations and a workshop in early 2016. In the workshop, participants scanned natural objects in the park landscape, then created sculptures based on those objects.
Megan Singleton's residency was in October 2014. She submitted a complex proposal to create original fine art paper using invasive and native plant materials, painted and sculpted with imagery related to the natural hydrological system of the dunes (creeks and wetlands). During her residency she led papermaking and bookbinding workshops using plant materials, highlighting both native species and the problem of invasive species in national parks.
Mister Zach (Zach Tipton) is the first singer songwriter to be selected for an artist residency at Great Sand Dunes. The first song inspired by his experience of his winter 2013 residency is a stark, mournful tune titled "Incomplete Isolation". Watch the song with accompanying video footage on YouTube.
Randy Pijoan was an artist in residence in May 2013. Randy's theme was "In Life and In Death," capturing cycles in the natural world that mirror aspects of the human experience. The artist created and operates Venturo Open Press, a non-profit facility to encourage disadvantaged youth in creating fine art prints. During his residency, he brought an fine art printing press to the Visitor Center, demonstrating the process of printmaking. He also conducted two painting workshops.
Robert presented a full moon photography workshop as well as an evening presentation of his work at the park amphitheater.
Ranna McNeil was an artist in residence in 2012. Her dreamlike abstractions are made with a variety of materials including crystal, glass, and encaustic wax. During her residency she shared her process of creating in glass, crystal, and painting at the Visitor Center. She has created a number of pieces related to the dunes, and is currently working to complete a complex cast crystal sculpture that she carved in wax during her residency.
Painter Joseph Palmerio was Artist in Residence in September 2011. Palmerio relates: "Although I am a representational painter, I am grabbed initially by a landscape's abstract shapes...this allows for a strong composition on which to present the subtle colors of nature."
During his residency, the artist gave two plein air oil painting demonstrations, as well as a number of informal demonstrations of watercolor painting in the Visitor Center.
Photographer Jim Sidinger was an Artist in Residence in fall 2011. Jim's photography is about communication through images which use simple lines and forms in symmetric (occasionally asymmetric) relationships. He feels that the viewer's experiences are improved and intensified when there is a minimal amount of incidental clutter to distract from the essence of what he is trying to communicate.
Jim Sidinger led a photography workshop during his residency.
Painter and photographer Jean Sidinger was an Artist in Residence during fall 2011. Jean's work focuses on abstract shapes and patterns found in the natural world. During her residency, she led a free workshop on "The Art of Seeing".
Painter Sheigla Hartman was Artist in Residence in April 2011. She is known nationally for her landscape paintings created with sweeping, abstract forms.
Hartman led a sketching workshop during her residency.
Angela Mestas was Artist in Residence in October 2010. Mestas combines outdoor leadership experiences in San Luis Valley's national wildlife refuges with an original vision for seeing and representing wildlife in fresh new ways. "I have an incredibly strong relationship with the land here," says Mestas. "That familiarity with color, aridity, and life will help support art that shows the character that defines the dunes. I want to create artwork that is sensitive to the diversity of the ecosystem in hopes of generating an emotional and intellectual effect that stimulates visually...not only asking questions about ecological relationships but defining them." She led a sketching workshop as well as classroom programs in a local school during her residency.
Allan McConnell and his wife Frances Dodd (below) were artists in residence together April 16-30, 2010. "The responsibility of black and white photographic artist is to present the image in a new and unique manner," says McConnell. "Choosing compositions, amplifying, retarding, enhancing, and abstracting are all part of the photographic art."
McConnell led a photography workshop during his residency.
Painter Frances Dodd was in residence April 2010 along with her husband Allan McConnell (above). Dodd says of her work, "I've learned to be less concerned about the outcome of the painting and now look for the discovery that might take place. I love the process of the painting, the joy of pushing paint or pastel around, developing lush color relationships and dramatic values. What initially attracts me to a subject are its shapes and values. I try to get beyond painting 'things' and concentrate on 'painting the painting'."
During her residency, Dodd led a painting workshop.
Potter and Muralist Sally Gierke was Artist in Residence in fall 2009. She led a clay workshop at the park and did programs at a local school.
In September 2009, Kathy Hodge was the first Artist in Residence at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. She led two sketching workshops during her residency.