Rocky Mountain National Park: Resident artists capture national park in summer glory |

Rocky Mountain National Park: Resident artists capture national park in summer glory

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Rocky Mountain National Park has chosen six artists for this year’s Artist-in-Residence Program. Visual artist Kevin Muente and Composer Daniel Kellogg completed their residencies and the first of the other four talents arrived this week.

Plein air painter John Taft will surround himself among the valleys, rivers and beauty plenty the weeks of July 1 and 8; children’s art illustrator Laura Jacques July 15 and 22, storyteller, musician and performing artist Cory Hills July 29 and Aug. 19; and

Poet Will LaPage follows Aug. 12 and 19.

Muente, of Erlanger, Ken., was up the first two weeks of June and has returned to continue as associate professor of painting at Northern Kentucky University. He believes national parks have profoundly changed his artwork and his spirit.

Kellogg, of Erie was here June 17 to 31. His compositions are known for his nature-inspired themes and his hopes during his residency in RMNP were for inspiration for a new commission from the National Symphony Orchestra. The Yale School of Music doctorate holder also serves as an assistant professor ” of composition at the College of Music at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Taft, of Longmont, moved to Colorado eight years ago just to be close to RMNP, to “nourish and inspire his soul for painting landscapes.” His artwork was selected for the 2005 Arts for Parks Mini 100 show and he was invited to exhibit his work in Oil Painters of America, the Colorado Governor’s Show.

Jacques, of Cromwell, Conn., has illustrated many children’s books on natural history, wildlife and the environment. Her work has appeared in the National Wildlife Federation children’s magazine and she has been commissioned to do illustrations for big names like Disney.

Hills hails of Lawrence, Kan., graduated with honors from Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia; and later received a Research Fellowship for Fabrica Institute in Italy. His latest storytelling work uses percussive art which he blends with contemporary and classical musical performances. During his residency he hopes to write and compose original oral stories with music inspired by nature and the park’s history.

LaPage has 50 years experience creating poetry about parks, nature and inspiration and hopes to write pieces on the sanctioned and unsanctioned creative artifacts of visitors and volunteers. A writer in Eureka Spgs., Ark., he was the first-ever recipient of the National Recreation and Park Association’s Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for excellence in park and recreation research.

The group was selected out of 78 applicants from throughout the United States. The park’s guests of honor get to stay at the William White cabin during their two-week stays and are “provided with a creative, contemplative environment in which to generate artistic works,” said Jean Muenchrath, RMNP park naturalist and program coordinator. “Artistic diversity, new ideas and creative uses of media were encouraged in the application process.

“Artists have had a long-standing impact on the formation, expansion and direction of our country’s national parks,” she continued. “Musicians, composers, painters, writers, sculptors and other performing artists also draw upon the multifaceted quality of parks for inspiration.”

All of them, she said, translate the park’s purpose “as a place of pleasure and preservation, into images which bring others enjoyment and a deeper understanding of the parks some may never visit.”

This year’s 2008 Rocky Mountain National Park Artists-in-Residence will also share their works with the public during two planned presentations ” at 7:30 p.m. in the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Auditorium on the east side of the park June 3 to Aug. 19.