Jun 11 2012 10:07AM
A Grand Home: The Art of Bruce
Jun 2 2012 12:00AM - Jan 13 2013 12:00AM
Artist Bruce Aiken had a dream of leading "an exceptional life in an extraordinary place." For 33 years that dream was his reality, living in the Grand Canyon where he worked, raised a family and painted.
In 1970 at the age of twenty, he left his home in New York City and moved west with a desire to live near something beautiful. Landing in Arizona he took art and geology classes, where he met his future wife, Mary. In 1973, he talked his way into a job with the National Park Service as Pump House Operator near Roaring Springs below the North Rim. He had never before turned a wrench, but he desperately wanted the work because it came with the best accommodations he could imagine: a house deep within the Grand Canyon.
Aiken, his wife and 9 month old daughter moved into the two-bedroom house complete with a helipad. Located in a side canyon, along Bright Angel Creek and surrounded by sheer rock walls that climb thousands of feet, it was so remote that a trip to the grocery store required a 5½ mile hike to the North Rim and then a 250 mile drive to Flagstaff. The couple stayed for more than three decades, raising three children.
In the beginning, Aiken was so intimidated by the canyon that he could only sketch it in a notebook, analyzing its rock layers and botany. After three years of studying, he worked up the courage to begin painting the Canyon and never stopped. Living in the Grand Canyon gave him an intimate understanding of its changing light, textures, colors and patterns that inspire his art. Today, his paintings include images of vast expanses of peaks, plateaus and chasms as well as enlarged geological details of rock that look abstract. Aiken’s art results from living and working in A Grand Home.