The Grand Canyon as Art


Over forty years ago our father surprised us with a big blond-wood box: a stereo console. He sat us down in front of it, took out a large, black, grooved disk, and put it on the turntable, then carefully placed the arm, with its sharp needle, onto the rotating disk.


And my life was changed. I was ten. Our family was planning a camping trip to the Grand Canyon. Mom and Dad had been extolling the geographical wonder for weeks. When the beginning of Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, “Sunrise,” opened up, I transported to a new dimension.


Dad narrated as the sun rose slowly, the quiet opening melody creeping across the stereo, from one speaker to the next, spreading around the orchestra. A single flute was a sweet bird singing to the first rays of the morning sun.


Temples at Dawn from Yvapai Point. Grand Canyon  National Park, Arizona, USA.As the sun rises, illuminating the red and gold rock walls, the mellow woodwinds move into louder, brighter tones. Suddenly bright sunshine bounces back and forth from instrument to instrument, increasing in volume and brilliance as the sun bursts into its full glory.


The suite continued, the music evoking vision after vision, the revelation of the connection between art and vision dawning in my young mind. During our camping trip, I was again in this trance of walking in two realms, the art of the music and the art of nature combining into an enriched reality. Even when the rain broke, thunderclouds booming, drenching our tent, I reveled in the purity with which Grofé’ portrayed the action and dynamics of the vibrant weather.


And I wrote. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I remember the wonder of adding yet another dimension to the phenomenon of art to express art. Writing became my art, my expression, my addition to this other world.


Since that moment I have experienced stunning replications of the Grand Canyon in photographs and paint, adding to the tapestry. Each thread of expression, nature, music, photography, painting, and writing can be brilliant unto itself, but woven together create a magical synthesis.