Committee names two Artists in the Parks: Zim, 2020: Buckwalter, 2021

artists in the park
Julia Buckwalter, recipient of the 2021 Artist in the Park award for the National Park Service’s Southeast Utah Group, poses with “The Banquet,” a three-foot by four-foot oil on canvas, during a Moab tour in September. Photo courtesy of Julia Buckwalter

The National Park Service Southeast Utah Group in a statement Friday, Nov. 8 announced Samantha Zim as the 2020 Community Artist in the Parks. The committee also selected Julia Buckwalter to serve in the same position in 2021.

“This year’s applicant pool was unusually rich,” said Sam Wainer, selection committee member representing Canyonlands Natural History Association. “Both Samantha and Julia presented outstanding applications that made it impossible to choose between them. So, we picked both to serve in sequential years.”

Created in 2009, the CAIP program highlights the connection between a local artist and the surrounding landscapes, particularly Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments, according to the statement.

“The desert landscape and unique community in Moab have had a transformative effect on me, both in my life and artistic progression,” said Zim in an email to The Times-Independent. “Getting to spend time in the parks as the community artist feels like coming full circle, and I’m excited and honored to have been chosen for the 2020 season. Beyond creating a new body of work focused on the parks, I hope to use the opportunity to explore the connections that both the local community and visitors form with the land in southeastern Utah.”

The desert has always provided Buckwalter with interesting landscapes. “It’s been a dream of mine to receive the appointment of Artist in the Parks for our National Park Service here in Moab,” she said.

“Since I was a young girl growing up in Utah, participating in the Springville Art Museum events and visiting O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, I have been in love with the desert landscape and her painters.

“I have long been an admirer of the historical paintings created for our country by WPA artists during the Great Depression,’ she continued, “and I’m a firm believer in art being ‘for the masses.’ The Community Artist in the Parks program follows in these footsteps and it’s an honor to look forward to meeting visitors from all over the country and world as a representative of the parks. I hope to uplift others through art, sharing and inspiring a passion for our natural world as transcribed through a painter’s eye.”

As the Community Artist for 2020 and 2021, respectively, Zim and Buckwalter will create original work within the parks for a minimum of 24 hours per month, April through October, and share their inspiration and creative process with visitors. Their works will be sold in the Canyonlands Natural History Association bookstores at Arches and Canyonlands national parks during her tenure, according to the statement.

For more information about the program and a schedule of each Community Artist’s park activities, visit Inquires can be directed to Karen Garthwait at 435-719-2142 or emailed to Karen_G[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]. Chad Niehaus, the Community Artist in the Parks liaison, can also be contacted for program information via email at C[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected].

Doug McMurdo contributed to this report.