Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters • HeART Haven Studios

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Kolob Canyon, part of Zion National Park, Utah


I took another day trip to Kolob Canyon.  Slightly off the beaten path, it has its own National Park designation, although really it’s just an extension of Zion, as evidenced in this photo by the rock formations.  They’re just not as extreme and don’t form a slot river canyon.  There were many more conifers here rather than the Zion cottonwoods and other vegetation that seek moister areas.  The hills were a little redder here, too, almost pink, which I found quite pretty.  I think had Kolob been in the middle of California, it would get a lot more press, but Zion just eclipses it here, unfortunately.


It’s like many things in life really.  In one area they’re invisible, but pluck them out of one environment and put them in another, and their simple contrast brings them much more attention and praise....Take a tiny meadow flower, unnoticed in a field of larger, brighter blooms, and set it in rocky soil on a desert trail, and it becomes an attraction for photographers.  Take a woman who is a little overweight but strong and healthy, living in a land of bikini-clad, starlet lookalikes, and she’s invisible.  Set her down in the midwest or a country

town, and suddenly she’s a much sought after beauty.  It’s all in perspective and supply and demand.


This evening I wandered around downtown Springdale, which is the town at the base of Zion Nat’l. Park. 



Lots of gift stores of the Ojai/Santa Ynez variety--t-shirts, Native American art and rock carvings (Anazasi here rather than the Chumash of my home area), spiritual items like crystals and dream catchers, whimsical wind chimes and garden pinwheels of colors and some metal.  In chatting with store keepers, I was so surprised to discover that except for a photographer in town, a metal sculptor and some Native American craft artisans, there really aren’t any painters or fine artists in town. I would think such natural wonder would naturally draw such artists.


Of course, that got mind little creative mind a-spinnin’.  How fun would it be to live in a place like this for a spell and paint?!  I don’t know how long I could endure the winters, but it would be fun for a time, right?!   I’m at that age when I’m thinking of retirement ideas! 


I got to talking with a woman about my age a few days back.  She saw me writing about my summer travels and started talking.  It seems adventurous women recognize one another.  She was about my age, working as a hostess in a local restaurant.  She said she’d traveled to Zion so many times and finally just decided to move here.  She put her home in Florida up for rent and came out West for a time.  She told me to be careful...”Zion is contagious.  It will cast its spell over you!”


I walked down the road and found myself in the David West Gallery, where I saw the most spectacular photographs of the area, the large versions of ones I’d been particularly admiring on postcards.  I strolled around and recognized this man as a true artist when it came to landscape photography.  It was obvious to me that he’d really had to WORK to catch these shots at just the right moment.  This wasn’t about photoshop.  For all the magic of photoshop, there’s just no shortcut when it comes to naturally perfect composition, timing of light, weather and mood.  It takes time, patience, effort to go where others won’t go.  This man had it.  


"Kaleidescope" Photograph by David West

I found myself ensnared by one photograph in particular, called Kaleidoscope.  It was a closeup of rock, the lines and colors creating almost a rainbow effect in an abstract composition.  It was utterly stunning.  What I didn’t know was that the artist-photographer himself had quietly walked up behind me.  He said, “You must be an artist.”  Without turning around, my eyes still on the “painting,” I said, “No, THIS photographer is the true artist here.”  He laughed and thanked me, diverting my attention to him finally.  His eyes still on the photo, he said that Kaleidoscope was his favorite, but that most people only were interested in the traditional landscapes.  After another 40 minutes or so talking, I purchased a smaller print of the work but knowing that it really needed to be large to have the full impact.  I wish I had been able to purchase that one!  I left feeling as if I’d been given a special gift of getting to meet and know the artist a bit.  It always makes the artwork even richer.  



Other galleries showcased kinetic metal sculptures, whimsical fun garden toys.  Again, my mind went to ways my mother could market her own sculptures here.  Of course, part of the attraction of purchasing art while on vacation is that it is made by local artists and the symbolic significance of always bringing fond memories of one’s vacation to the area.  


(Look at that cool old panel truck in the background too!!)


Dinner Fun.....


David West pointed me to the best local restaurant in town and told me to tell them he sent me.  Established in an old converted gas station the “Whiptail”‘s fire-roasted beef was to die for (try it on any dish!)  I was enjoying my dinner with a glass of wine and a book, when 6 men at the table nearest me caught my ear.  Soon I found myself giggling and then outright laughing.  One older man, maybe my age, was trying to talk the younger man to pose for a photo with his bulging biceps transplanted on his 50-something body. They enlisted my help as photostylist. 

I laughed so hard!  It reminded me of the time I’d gone expedition kayaking 5-6 years ago with 6 men.  We kayaked 150 miles in 10 days,  camped on a different island every night, and drank our Trader Joes bagged Delicata Wine until well after midnight (since the sun never sets) as we told tall tales and watched the Pilot Whales glide by.  What I learned that trip is that you get a group of 6 men together, no matter how old (and some were in their 60’s!) and they revert to acting like10 year olds!  Case in point:  Our last night out, they fished out a large styrofoam buoy from the shipping lane.  The painted a face on it with berries and charcoal, added found feathers, etc., and then strung him up on the bear-hang.  They called him “Wilson.” (yes, like the volleyball in the movie “Castaway!”   After some wine, the guys took turns on their knees praying to Wilson, confessing their sins and paying penance, which came in the form of another man/boy religiously flagellating him with Alaskan seaweed!  I never laughed so hard in my life.  After the photo shoot, I shared my story and we all got a good laugh!   


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