Loretta Domaszewski stands in a river in her Keens with an easel and apron. She's looking up at the canyon walls surrounding her and painting.
2016 BLM artist-in-residence Loretta Domaszewski doing plein air painting at Sand Creek in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Credit: Allysia Angus / Bureau of Land Management

The Canyon Country District of the Bureau of Land Management is hosting its first-ever artist-in-residence program. Applications are being accepted now through June 1, and the program will take place between September and October of this fall. 

“The public lands managed by our district are unique and beautiful. This program will allow us to highlight these resources and promote a better understanding of the public lands we manage,” said BLM employee Shannon Calabro, who is serving as the contact for the program. She’s especially excited that the district is participating this year, as she enjoys creating art on public lands herself. 

The BLM has sponsored artist-in-residence programs at various locations since 2012, when the pilot season was held at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado. 

“It provides artistic and educational opportunities to promote deeper understanding of, and dialogue about, the significance of natural, cultural, and historic resources on public lands managed by the BLM,” according to the agency’s website. It’s similar to the National Park Service residency program, which was started in 1916. In both programs, an artist spends some weeks living immersed in a particular landscape and produces art (which can be in a variety of mediums) reflecting that landscape, while also engaging with visitors. 

The BLM’s Canyon Country District, which comprises the Moab and Monticello field offices, has been interested in participating in the program for years, and this year generated enough momentum to launch. 

“Enthusiastic staff worked together with managers and coordinators at other BLM artist-in-residence sites to create this program for BLM Canyon Country,” Calabro said. “Our intent is to start small, and alternate between Moab and Monticello field offices each year to host the selected artist.”

Moab is hosting the first season. For now, the program is open only to visual artists, though other kinds of artists have participated in BLM residencies: This summer, for the first time, a BLM Artist-in-Residence will tour multiple sites, and the artist is Native American jazz trumpeter Delbert Anderson, accompanied by his ensemble D’DAT. The group will perform music inspired by Bears Ears National Monument in Blanding on June 18. 

The Canyon Country artist in residence will have access to a BLM campsite for the duration of the program as well as use of the Moab Field Office for drinking water and showers. The artist will offer an event to members of the public, such as a workshop or demonstration, and also meet with visitors at popular areas in the district. The artist will have four months to complete a work based on the residency, of which a digital copy will be donated to the BLM (the artist retains the original and copyrights, with a limited production and publication agreement with the agency.) 

A selection panel of BLM employees from both the Moab and Monticello offices will evaluate the applications and choose the artist. Both local and nonlocal artists are welcome to apply. To learn more or apply, visit www.blm.gov/get-involved-artist-residence-canyon-county-district.