Cari Updike


I grew up spending summers in that most iconic of all Western landscapes, the Grand Canyon, where my father was a ranger. And I drew relentlessly from the time I could hold a pencil. Inevitably, I found my way to painting the western landscape as an adult. But the path was not direct. I also loved to read, and went to college on an academic scholarship, where I wanted to major in art but ended up majoring in English to keep that scholarship and finish my college education. Some years later, the impulse to paint the landscape became overwhelming despite my best efforts to fight it for practical reasons. (Art is never practical but always life-altering.)

Perhaps it was my life-long immersion in the iconic (and less well-known) landscapes of the West. My grandparents lived in southern Utah right in the middle of Zion, Bryce, and the North Rim and I fell in love with those majestic landscapes. My family of origin traveled and camped in National Parks throughout the West – from the Redwoods to the Petrified Forest and from the Grand Tetons to Death Valley. I hiked every chance I got. My first date with my husband was an 18-mile, 12-hour, hike up Mount Timpanogos and back down again. My husband and I (and later kids) drove the 89 between Utah and Arizona to visit family many, many times – past Big Rock Candy Mountain, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Johnson Canyon, the Kaibab Plateau, Lake Powell, and the Vermillion Cliffs. Still later I discovered Joshua Tree, Capitol Reef, Valley of the Gods, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Blue Canyon, Coal Mine Canyon, Dead Horse Point, Arches, and Canyonlands to name a few. And there are still more magnificent Western landscapes to discover.

The beauty and stillness of these places have changed me forever. Put me in a car, and I want to leave the city behind and go where the ponderosas blow in the breeze, the Kaibab squirrels chitter, the stars shine bright and all is well with the world again.