Friday, March 27, 2009

Robert Gardner Monument Unveiled by Sculptor Jerry Anderson

Sculpture by Jerry Anderson of Pioneer Robert Gardner driving the center stake for the city of St. GeorgeTonight we attended the unveiling of the new Robert Gardner Monument. My good friend Jerry Anderson sculpted the image of Pioneer Robert Gardner driving the stake in 1862 identifying the center of what would become the city of St. George. That point, and the location of the sculpture is on the traffic circle at Main Street and Tabernacle.
Above: The Robert Gardner monument with the St. George Tabernacle in the background

Prior to the unveiling, Jerry Anderson was honored at a reception and dinner at the St. George Art Center along with the many artists participating in the 2009 Art Around the Corner project. Artist Matt Clark also received an award for his contributions to the art community, as well as his long-time service on the Art Around the Corner committee.

Unveiling of Robert Gardner monument in St. George, Utah.
Above: The cover is removed at the unveiling of the new Robert Gardner sculpture on the roundabout at Main Street and Tabernacle in St. George

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thoughts on Turning 60

Well I finally reached the pinnacle of my life. Yep, I turned 60. Of course, just when I thought I would start getting senior discounts, they pushed the "real" senior demarcation line up to age 62. Oh well, I don't really feel much older than 59anyway. In an effort to make me feel a little better, my kids and grandkids threw a fun birthday bash over the weekend at my son Jon's home near Richfield Utah.

Roland Lee and grandkids

One of the funnest gifts was a wonderful "Tribute to Grandpa" book with thoughts and pictures from everybody about their experiences with me over the years. My grandkids and I read it together over and over.

A group hug for Grandpa Lee. The best part of the party was getting to see most of my cute grandkids and spend time with them. I'll have all of them with us over Easter weekend when Jana and her family come up from Houston.

Roland Lee bass fishing on Lake Powell

Jon and his friend Russ invited me on a bass fishing trip to Lake Powell, and I figured I deserved a little vacation for my birthday. The weather was great, and even though the water is still too cold, we caught some nice fish, and I caught some z's in the afternoon sun. Ahhh, what a great birthday.

Jon and Travis Lee at Lake Powell

My grandson Travis and his friend Hayden tagged along on our fishing trip and both caught some nice fish. My son Jon holds the bass in this picture.

Visit to the Bingham Gallery in Maynard Dixon Country

The Bingham Gallery at Mount Carmel Utah

The Bingham Gallery in Mt. Carmel Utah. Paul and Susan Bingham operate the gallery which is located on the art-historic site of Maynard Dixon's summer home and studio.

We took a liesurely drive from Zion National Park up Highway 89 to visit our grandkids in Annabella Utah. On the way, we stopped for a visit at the Bingham Fine Art Gallery which is located on the former Maynard Dixon Studio property at Mount Carmel, Utah. Paul and Susan Bingham are among the foremost experts on artist Maynard Dixon and each year host "Maynard Dixon Country" an invitational paint out and show at that location. In April they will co-host a similar event called "In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran." I have been invited to participate in that event and will have paintings on display at the Bingham Gallery from April 1-25, 2009. I will post more about that show later.

Hiking with the grandkids in Zion National Park

Kids of all ages can find a world of wonder in Zion National ParkWe had a board meeting of the Zion Natural History Association March 21 at Zion National Park. The meeting lasted all morning and concluded with a nice lunch. My daughter Jodi brought her three boys up for a little outdoor adventure in the canyon. After the meeting I joined them on the Pa'Rus trail where they excitedly told me about a little owl they had seen up in one of the trees. There's a lot to do in Zion for even very young children -- even kids in strollers! Hats off to all the moms like Jodi who get their kids outdoors to discover what a great place we live in.

Binghams Purchase Zion Park Painting

Elizabeth Bingham in the library of her home with Roland Lee painting of Zion National ParkGlenn and Elizabeth Bingham purchased my award-winning painting "Solace at Sinawava" from the Sears Invitational art show which ended Saturday. They own a magnificent home with a 180 degree panoramic view of southern Utah's cliffs and selected the painting to grace the soaring walls of their library room. Nellie and I delivered the painting and helped hang it above the fireplace on a wall richly panelled in dark cherry wood. The painting looks magnificent in that location. It's always an honor for me to visit the homes where my paintings hang and see the joy they bring to their new owners.
See a step by step painting demonstration on this painting

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sculptor Matt Clark Gives Inspiring Presentation at St. George Art Museum

Gene Butera, Matt Clark, and Roland Lee at the St. George Art Museum

Above: Photographer/artist Gene Butera, watercolorist Roland Lee, and sculptor Matt Clark after Matt's talk at the St. George Art Museum

Sculptor Matt Clark gave an inspiring presentation at the St. George Art Museum Thursday Night. He showed how he creates welded metal sculpures from both found objects and formed steel. I have the privilege of owning one of his gorgeous pieces and love looking at its fluid lines and elegant form. Matt set out to become a rodeo cowboy but his life changed dramatically when he was paralyzed by an accident in his teens. After years of difficult therapy he regained use of his arms and upper body. He renewed his interest in welding and adapted his tools so he could work from his wheelchair. At first he created whimsical creatures with found objects but after discovering Henry Moore, his focus changed and his work developed into a fine art. He has participated in many shows and has received multiple awards for his work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hiking the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek

Middle Taylor Creek Hike Zion National Park Kolob fingers.I'm outa here! With weather this great, why stay indoors? I've been working on a couple of small paintings of Zion National Park this week, and by this afternoon I was ready to get out of the studio and into the canyon. So at 3:30pm I headed up the road to Kolob Fingers section of Zion National Park and set out on the Middle Taylor Creek Trail.

Roland Lee on the Tayalor Creek Trail in Zion National ParkSince I got such a late start I knew I'd have to push it to get back before dark, but I couldn't wait to hit the trail. Here I am standing by the familiar twin Cottonwood trees which usually frame Paria Point in photos, but in this photo they frame me. I passed a few other hikers on their way out, leaving me the last hiker on the trail. Hmmm, any mountain lion tracks?

With the temperature in the 70's I forgot I'd still run into spring snow. Up canyon the snow is still about a foot deep on the trail, which slowed me down a little. But it was really beautiful. In the background is Paria Point.

1000 foot cliffs rise on either side of the trail. As evening approaches these cliffs glow as if on fire. Even with the snow I could feel warm air coming off the big sandstone cliffs.

The old Fife Cabin near the north fork of Taylor Creek in Zion National Park's Kolob Fingers sectionI made a couple of stops to sketch in my sketchbook. I managed a quick sketch of Fife Cabin which was built in the 1930's. You pass two old cabins on the four hour hike which ends at the stunning Double Arch Alcove.


Just a few of the sketchbook drawings I did on the Taylor Creek Trail hike. All were done on location with a 6B pencil in a Watson-Guptill hardbound sketchbook.

Roland Lee sketchbook drawing of Fife Cabin on Taylor CreekQuick sketch of the old Fife Log Cabin. It was built in the 1930's before this area was part of Zion National Park. A couple of more big winter snows and it probably wont stand anymore.

Roland Lee sketchbook drawing of Tucupit PointTucupit Point is the big formation on the left as you move down the middle fork of the Taylor Creek Trail.

Roland Lee sketchbook drawing of Paria Point in Kolob Canyons section of Zion National ParkParia Point is in view from the start of the Taylor Creek Trail hike. In the late afternoon it glows a bright red from the direct sun.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Couple Celebrates 50th anniversary with Class

Don Stevens and his wife Marilyn celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by taking Roland Lee's drawing class Marilyn and Don Stevens celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by enrolling together in my spring Sketchbook Drawing class. While some might think it a bit unusual to celebrate this way, for them it was a logical choice. It was in a college art class that the couple first met way back when, so they thought it would be fun to celebrate with "class" again after fifty years together. We all got a kick out of it, and as it turns out, they are pretty darn good artists.

Roland Lee Sketchbook drawing workshop
Other artists attending the drawing workshop included: Paula Banos, Sharon Cannon, Brad DeMille, Alice Hemming, Karen Bettilyon, Shana Harris, Joyce Anderson, Carol Sprigg, Carolyn Ostler, and Vicki Clayton -- all great artists too.

Sketching at Greene Gate Village in St. George, Utah
Along with our class work we took our sketchbooks to the popular Greene Gate Village in St. George, where we spent a couple of hours sketching on location. The class did great as they wandered around The village doing quick studies of the pioneer buildings, antique buggies and cars, and historic relics from another time. There was plenty to see, and the artists shook off their shyness and got in the spirit very quickly. They came up with some great drawings, and I was really pleased with their progress.
Brad DeMille sketching at Greene Gate Village
See workshop page at for more photos

Friday, March 06, 2009

Trip to Baltimore nets Awards at the National Parks Partners Conference

The Capitol Building in Washington DC
We just returned last night from a week on the east coast where we had a chance to visit the nation's capitol, take in a few museums, and attend the APPL conference in Baltimore. Unfortunately a wicked storm plastered the entire coast shortly after we arrived, shutting down the airports, the schools, and bringing daytime temperatures into the teens. It was coooold! But undaunted we carried on.

Nick Jorgenson, Lyman Hafen, and Roland Lee receiving publication awards at the 2009 APPL conference in Baltimore
ZNHA board chairman Nick Jorgenson, Executive Director Lyman Hafen, and Vice Chairman Roland Lee display awards received from APPL

The main focus of our trip was the Association of Partners for Public Lands (APPL) Conference in Baltimore. As vice-chairman of The Zion Natural History Association and Zion National Park Foundation, I attended the conference with a group of staff and board members. We were thrilled to receive association awards for the "Century of Sanctuary, Art of Zion National Park" art show and book project which we developed for the Zion Centennial this year. It was an amazing cooperative effort of the National Park Service, Zion Natural History Association, St. George Art Museum, St. George Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other entities, so we were very pleased to be recognized.

Film maker Ken Burns, writer Dayton Duncan, Artist Roland Lee and writer Lyman Hafen at preview showing of The National Parks, America's Best Idea
Award-winning film maker Ken Burns (left) and partner Dayton Duncan (right) meet with Roland Lee and Lyman Hafen prior to preview showing

Another highlight of the conference was a special preview showing of part of the new Ken Burns PBS documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" which will air in September 2009. The week-long 12-hour film takes a new look at the beauty and magnificence of our nation's treasures through the lives of individuals whose lives were changed by their association with our public lands. Both film maker Ken Burns and his partner and writer, Dayton Duncan shared with us very moving and personal reflections on the impact this 10-year project has had on them. Burns is well-known for previous award-winning PBS projects such as "The Civil War" and "Baseball" but feels this is his best work to date.

Phil and Norma Maestri with Nellie Lee
Norma and Phil Maestri (sitting) with Nellie Lee at their Virginia home

Prior to the conference we enjoyed a brief visit with Phil and Norma Maestri who shared their lovely home with us in Woodbridge Virginia (We also share three wonderful grandkids). They took us on a guided tour of Washington DC where Phil works for the Department of Education. Unfortunately President Obama was too busy to see us personally, but we did get a t-shirt with his picture on it. We also enjoyed the Air and Space Museum, Natural Science Museum, and the Hirshorn Art Museum at the National Mall.

The Air and Space Museum Washington DC
The National Air and Space Museum at the National Mall in Washington DC