An uppity East Coast woman sits down with a heavily tattooed Harley Davidson fan who has a raspy, Marge Simpson-like voice…
Katrina Lund isn’t launching into a joke. She’s describing the kinds of interactions she witnesses during a typical day on the job as the National Park Service’s Community Artist in the Parks at the agency’s Southeast Utah Group parks and monuments.
Since mid-April, Lund has brought unlikely groups of people together with periodic “sketch crawls,” which are modeled on pub crawls. Instead of downing one pint after another, sketch crawlers go from one location to the next, drawing or sketching the sights in front of them.
Unfortunately, that tradition is coming to an end this month. On Saturday, Oct. 10, she will host her final sketch crawl at Arches National Park. Lund will be stationed at the Three Gossips from 9 a.m. to noon. She’ll move on to Park Avenue from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., and will end the day at Balanced Rock from 4 to 7:30 p.m.
Anyone who is interested in joining her can spend as little as a few minutes, or as long as several hours, sketching away.
“It’s free-style, so people can come and go with whatever works for their schedule,” she said.
For the most part, Lund teams up with people she meets along the trails. Only a handful of people have actually sought her out, although Lund has heard from a number of local residents and others who say they would like to attend a sketch crawl.
“It’s been amazing to me how many people are like, ‘We really want to go to one, but we’ve been putting it off,’ she said.
If that’s the case, then they shouldn’t hold off any longer.
“This is the last one,” she said.
Lund, who is a geologist by training and experience, said the experience of approaching visitors at random on the trails gives her a unique feeling.
“Sketch crawls remind me of when I was hitch-hiking in New Zealand,” she said. “You just kind of throw yourself out there in the world. You have no idea who’s going to come around the corner, and you have no idea who you’re going to sketch with next.”
On one occasion, she reached out to five self-proclaimed computer geeks who grew up in India, but now live in Seattle. They told her that they hadn’t drawn anything since childhood, but Lund convinced them to sit down and give it a try.
Oftentimes, she’ll meet a group of hikers that includes at least one person who would like to stay and sketch, while everyone else moves on.
“It’s been fun to meet these people who have different goals for their vacations, and they all get to realize them,” she said.
Other times, she’ll bring complete strangers together, such as the uppity East Coast woman, the Harley Davidson rider and a Navajo artist who probably would not interact with each other under different circumstances.
“And here we are, all of us having a great time,” she said.
Lund likes to tell park visitors that they don’t have to spend all of their time hiking. When they sit down and take in their surroundings, Lund said she’s found that they often gain a greater appreciation of the landscape around them.
“It’s amazing to me how much people really notice things when they sit down to draw something,” she said.
Arches and Canyonlands Interpretive Specialist Sharon Brussell said the sketch crawlers have the luxury of taking time to soak up park landscapes, which can be overwhelming to first-time visitors. Any time they stop and focus, she said, they gain a better feel for the park, whether they’re observing the intricate cracks in the rock, or light that varies from one moment to the next.
“It just really opens up a new way to be in the parks and to experience some place that is so busy,” she said. “It really gives people the opportunity to slow down and stop and see things.”
The average sketch crawler not only delights in the parks, she said, but in the energy that Lund has brought to the job as this year’s Community Artist in the Parks.
“Her personality is so open and warm,” Brussell said. “She is just so engaging that I think more people than ever took part in her events.”
Final sketch crawl with Katrina Lund set for Oct. 10
The National Park Service will offer a limited amount of art supplies for the sketch crawl. If you have art supplies of your own, please bring them, along with water, food and sunscreen. For more information, go to www.katrinalund.com/sketch-crawls/.
What: Sketch crawling with Katrina Lund
When: Saturday, Oct. 10
Where: Arches National Park
Cost: Free; park admission fees vary