Yosemite has inspired artists and performers for generations. This movement continues today with programs in Yosemite Valley that teach visitors how to create their own masterpieces and learn about the park through theater shows that bring to life its history, people and landscapes.
“This is about shaping memories and connections—eye, heart and soul,” said artist Donna Naes. She is one of dozens of accomplished artists who reach more than 2,000 park visitors annually through Yosemite Conservancy’s Art in the Park programs — and who help to carry on the long tradition of capturing Yosemite in a variety of mediums. Courses focus on using watercolor, pastels, acrylic and ink to express yourself and capture what is important to you about Yosemite.
Yosemite Theater performances at the Valley Visitor Center entertain and educate more than 10,000 visitors each year. Every night from May-September, visitors are taken on a journey that explores the lives of Yosemite legends. Performances include portrayals of historic figures such as John Muir by Lee Stetson and a Buffalo Soldier by Shelton Johnson. Famed Yosemite climber Ron Kauk shares his contemporary adventures. Tom Bopp, a Yosemite Theater singer and pianist who performs songs about Yosemite’s travelers, said, “Our presenters directly channel for the audience ways of experiencing Yosemite through others, past and present.”
Whether painting or enjoying performers, artist and teacher Steve Curl said immersing oneself in what the park offers is the best way to connect with it. “When you paint, you pay attention, and the beauty of paying attention is to be fully present in the moment,” he said. “To be fully present in Yosemite is a true gift of awareness.”
Yosemite Art and Education Center programs are offered through the end of October and include one four-hour art workshop per day, Tuesday-Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. A $5 donation per class is suggested. Yosemite Theater performances begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children under 13 and are available at the Yosemite Conservancy Store at the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center and at Tour & Activity Desks. Additional information is at www.yosemiteconservancy.org or by calling (209) 372-1442.