by Shawn Rossiter
Edward Abbey called it the “meanest little town in America.” Robert Redford and Bill Clinton have both been hung in effigy here. And it was from here that poet and artist Everett Ruess disappeared into the redrock wilderness.
Perched up against the high cliffs of Boulder Mountain, and overlooking a wide expanse of undulating rocks and canyons, the small Utah town of Escalante has been many things to many people. And now it is quickly becoming a magnet for regionally and nationally recognized artists.
Escalante is 70 miles from the nearest town of any size. It is not on the way to anything. But it is the gateway to the marvelous and varied landscape of the Grand Staircase –Escalante Monument. It is this landscape which has made the town an ideal location for the development of the plein-air painting competition which is part of the Everett Ruess Days.
Last year’s event was juried by Doug Snow and Paul Davis and included many recognized artists including Bonnie Posselli, Roberta Glidden, Steve Larsen, Clay Wagstaff, and Trent Thursby Alvey. Ogden? Artist Doug Braithwaite walked away with the first place ward for the competition — $2000 out of $4000 award money.
Artists will have five days to finish a painting in Garfield, Kane or Wayne Counties and submit the piece for judging. On Saturday, October 8th there will be judging, people’s choice award and a silent auction. You can anticipate more on the Plein Air Competition and the Escalante Arts Festival in our September edition. But for now, artists are encouraged to register to particpate in this upcoming art event. Full details can be found at the website: www.everettruessdays.org
This article originally appeared in the May 2005 edition of 15 Bytes
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.