Speaker Series

Sean Duffy: The First Star People

LOCATION: Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
September 26, 2018 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

NOTE:  Program to begin inside visitor center transitioning to star viewing outside using high-power telescopes.

People come from all over the world to enjoy the dark clear skies of the Southwest.  Free from light pollution, the skies offer beauty and insight into the universe.  Astronomy has been practiced here for thousands of years and although native cultures did not leave much in the way of written records, they left enough evidence behind to show that they had a keen interest in and a vast knowledge of the stars , sun, and moon.  This raises the question: ..why are Native Americans astronomers?

A park ranger for 34 years, Sean has been studying cultural and natural history throughout the west and combines the two in his astronomy programs. Rumored to have a six sense about fossils, he manages to find fossils where ever he roams.

Kit Frost: The iPhone – So Much More Than a Selfie

LOCATION: Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
September 28, 2018 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Today’s smartphones include a wide variety of apps for image making. Photos, videos, time lapse sequences are just a small sampling of what is available for using your phone. Kit Frost uses her phone as a sketchbook, as a digital camera, as a video production tool and for time lapse photography. This workshop is designed to teach you to use the camera that is most often with you, your phone. Kit will demonstrate the simple techniques needed to take terrific photos with your smartphone. Participants will learn how to use your phone to make photos, including panoramics and timelapses, and create short video sequences.


Kit Frost lives and teaches photography workshops in Durango, Colorado, and throughout the West. She has served as an artist-in-residence in a dozen national parks and monuments. She draws inspiration from the work of Thomas Moran, Ansel Adams, Christopher Burkett, Georgia O’Keeffe and Brett Weston, sharing an affinity with the monumental aspects of the American landscape and a dialog with light that is ever-changing and elusive.

Whether capturing still images, recording time-lapse and video sequences or chasing the light at our national parks, Kit Frost’s preferred work method is to explore landscapes over an extended period of time in order to capture the essence of each location throughout the day and into the night.

Often found working with her iPhone, Kit’s belief is that the best images are not created by the camera but by the passion and vision of the artist behind the lens.  Since serving as Artist in Residence at Acadia, Crater Lake, Glacier, Capitol Reef and Mesa Verde National Parks, Kit has been recording time lapse, video and still sequences with her iPhone and helping visitors gain a better understanding of the simple tools on their smartphones.

See more of  Kits’s work here.

Paula L. McNeill: The Life and Works of the 2018 Featured Artist – Shawn Miller and Featured Vendor – Karen Rangitsch

LOCATION: Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
September 28, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Join Paula L. McNeill in a discussion of the inspirations, processes, and resulting work of this year’s Featured Artist, Shawn Miller and Featured Vendor, Karen Rangitsch.  

McNeill is an art educator and photographer who divides her time between Valdosta, Georgia, where she was on the art faculty at Valdosta State University and summers in Escalante, Utah, where her family has had a summer home since 1980.  McNeill received her BA in Art from Arizona State University; her MA from the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque; and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  With an interest in community-based art, for more than ten years McNeill has documented the art and lives of visual artists in southern Utah through video-taped oral history interviews.  She has published some of these findings and has made numerous presentations at state and national professional meetings on this topic, including presentations on the Featured Artists for the Escalante Canyons Art Festival since 2004 when the Festival began. 

Shawn Miller – 2018 Featured Artist 

Escalante painter and owner of Escape Goats, his guiding business into the isolated, remote surrealistic spaces of the Escalante wilderness, is this year’s Featured Artist.  Shawn was first drawn to landscapes as a child growing up in Rapid City, South Dakota where he roamed the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.  His art has been influenced by the unique settings of the places he has lived in the Dakotas and Utah.  When he first got to Escalante 15 years ago, he took lessons from and was encouraged by the late Peggy Soren.  Shawn shares his love of this special area through his art  as his appreciation of the natural patterns in rocks, geology and plant life can easily be seen in his paintings. 

Karen Rangitsch – 2018 Featured Vendor 


Escalante was her ‘home away from home’ for over 40 years until it became her residence for several years.  Having recently relocated to St. George, Karen continues to support a number of community events and projects, including the arts festival.  She has been one of the steadfast vendors from the early years of the festival, sharing her lovely aprons, dolls, and other fabric art items.  



Scott Richardson: An Accidental Paleontologist

LOCATION: Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
September 28, 2018 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

This program will condense Scott’s 16 years of working in the Kaiparowits Plateau with Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument paleotologist, Dr. Alan Titus, as he shares a myriad of stories, photos, finds and excavations.

Scott has a B.S. in geological engineering and has discovered several new species of dinosaurs in the last 15 years.  He worked in mineral exploration and environmental management before volunteering at the Museum of Northern Arizona in paleontology. Since meeting Dr. Titus in 2002, he has been involved in all aspects of paleontology at the Monument.  His discoveries include Kosmoceratops richardsoni, Lythronax argestes and other Cretaceous animals.

Christa Sadler: Seeing Things Whole: John Wesley Powell and an Understanding of the American West

LOCATION: Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
September 29, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Although most people are familiar with John Wesley Powell as the intrepid one-armed Civil War veteran who became the first European to explore the canyons of the Colorado and Green Rivers in 1869 and again in 1871-72, it is the work that Powell did following his epic journeys for which he truly should be famous. Powell understood the challenges of life in a land of little water like few others of his time, and his ideas for settlement of this region were visionary. As water becomes scarcer and more precious in the West, Powell’s ideas may provide valuable guidance for water managers at all levels in the coming decades. 

Join us as author and river guide Christa Sadler introduces Powell the man, the scientist, the explorer, and the policy maker, from her new book, The Colorado.



Marsha Holland: Southern Utah Oral History Project – A Record of Living with the Land

LOCATION: Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
September 29, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Historian Marsha Holland, Tropic, Utah, resident has been visiting with local residents recording their stories for several years.  This oral history project was one of the first Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument science initiatives. Since 1998, historians have gathered nearly 300 interviews from longtime residents, documenting cultural ties to wild country in and around the Monument. Learn more and listen here.