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North Van painter brushed off at Grand Canyon
It was the worst time for Lorn Curry to visit the Grand Canyon.
On a trip to snap photos of the parched Southwest desert, the North Van artist was stopped in his tracks when the U.S. government went into partial shutdown after Congress failed to pass a new budget.
All 401 national parks and attractions closed on Oct. 1, the very day Curry landed in Arizona.
Barricades were quickly put up across entrances to the Grand Canyon and park rangers were brought in after frustrated tourists tried to push them out of the way.
“You have to be right at the rim to see the canyon. There was absolutely no way to see it,” says Curry back home at Studio F on Pemberton Avenue, a handful of Southwestern landscapes hanging behind him on the wall.
Since 2006 he has tried to escape rainy Vancouver each year for a dose of inspiration. His paintings are based on the thousands of photos he takes annually, often just before sunrise as the light creates deep shadows in the canyons and mesas of red sandstone.
This fall, however, he returned with not nearly enough material.
“I even heard from a park ranger that they turned a group away from Japan,” he says, grimacing at the unfortunate event.
To his dismay the three national monuments and three additional national parks he planned on visiting were shut down as well. After taking a hike at a state park in Phoenix, he booked his flight home.
Despite the continuation of the government shutdown still looming, the Grand Canyon, along with Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty, has since reopened after state governors reached deals with the federal government, including paying the National Park Service $651,000 to resume operation of the canyon for seven days.
But this temporary relief was too late for Curry.
“Next year will be a challenge. My reference library is dry now,” he says, adding he may be able to fly down in the spring.
One of Curry’s paintings in particular relied on the trip. Having trouble finding the perfect balance of colour, he almost had to “haul it to the dumpster” but luckily managed to snap a photo of the sun setting in a similar terrain. He used the image to successfully complete the painting and it now hangs proudly on his wall.
Originally from Acadia, N. B., it was a trip to the Corner States — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona – that finally cemented Curry’s connection to the land.
This is why he has no plans to let the experience dampen his love of the American Southwest.
“I’ve never said, and will probably never say, it’s too hot.”
Curry’s paintings can be seen at Scotia Creek Gallery in Whistler from Nov. 4 to Dec. 13 or at Studio F, 161 Pemberton Ave.