Artist Melissa Weinman at Fort Union


On this episode of Big Blend Radio, artist Melissa Weinman shares her National Parks Arts Foundation Artist-in-Residence experience at Fort Union National Monument in Northern Mexico. Plus, park superintendent Lorenzo Vigil shares the Fort’s history and visitor experience.

Melissa Weinman is a member of Oil Painters of America, and presently teaching in her studio in Ruston, Washington. After receiving many degrees in art from Maine to southern California, she has 17 years of college teaching. Weinman also has an extensive list of group and solo art shows dating back to 1983.

On this episode of Big Blend Radio, artist Melissa Weinman shares her National Parks Arts Foundation Artist-in-Residence experience at Fort Union National Monument in Northern Mexico!

Melissa grew up in her mother’s painting and ceramic studio on the prairies of southwest Minnesota where buffalo and prickly pear cactus are native. As a child her mother would beckon her to look at the beauty of things and to notice, simple, but elegant phenomena, such as dust motes floating in a swath of brilliant sunlight.

Whether painting near the mountains, or rivers of Washington or New Mexico, she is enthralled with their dramatic majesty. While painting outdoors, the weather is unpredictable, and a cloud could pass and show something not seen before by the sun peeking through. 

Currently, Melissa says of her work, “I’m attracted to all subjects that are translucent and changing, therefore I’m drawn to paint fruit and flowers, water and clouds, and the figure. I aim to capture my subjects through a palpable sense of atmosphere, masterful drawing, and luscious paint handling.”  

She visited Fort Union National Monument in June to get a feel of the ruins. She wanted to know what treasures were there and soaked up the amazing, beautiful environment. She was even more excited about depicting the deep expanse of the Mora River Valley and the Santa Fe Trail that ran through it. “That kind of space running for miles to the horizon, coupled with the dramatic cloudscape pushing an equally deep space into the vertical dimension” is her kind of challenge in plein air painting, she said.

Fort Union National Monument impressed Weinman as artistic material with its power of presence. Adds Weinman, ”They stand like sentinels against the elements, guarding the memory of the men and women who stood guard there one hundred and fifty years ago.”

A successful residency, in her view, is one that mutually benefits the NPAF, the park, and the artist, she said. The ingredients are the quality of the artwork and artist’s participation in the AiR. “I want everyone involved to say “Wow!” says Weinman. More at

“National Parks have always welcomed artistic interpretations in support of land advocacy” said Lorenzo Vigil, superintendent of Fort Union National Monument. “We are pleased to host artists who communicate complex and contemporary issues through their chosen medium.”

Fort Union National Monument, located in Mora County near Watrous, New Mexico, was the largest frontier military post and supply center of the southwest. It also was the hub of commerce, national defense, and migration at the final stretch of the Santa Fe Trail. The richly evocative remnants of a post-civil war era adobe fort became a National Monument in 1954 under the Eisenhower administration. More at

This artist-in-resdience program is a successful cooperative venture between the National Park Service and The National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF), and brings a variety of artists to work and live at the monument, and make public presentations during their stay. This program, implemented with great success by NPAF at other National Parks, allows visitors to see the Monument through the eyes of world-class artists and visionaries. The AiR program is made possible through the philanthropic support of donors of all sorts ranging from corporate sponsors, small business, and art patrons and citizen-lovers of the Parks. NPAF is always seeking new partners for its wide ranging Artist-in-Residence programs. More at

National Parks Arts Foundatio


No Feedback Received