Janice’s Review Blog

Book records artist’s Grand Canyon experiences

Posted on: August 15, 2009

'Bruce Aiken's Grand Canyon: An Intimate Affair' records living in the Grand Canyon.

'Bruce Aiken's Grand Canyon: An Intimate Affair' records living in the Grand Canyon.

In Nov. 2005, Bruce Aiken retired and moved from his Roaring Springs home in the Grand Canyon after working for the National Park Service for 33 years and recording the Grand Canyon’s history in his art work.

In “Bruce Aiken’s Grand Canyon: An Intimate Affair,” author Susan Hallsten McGarry records Aiken’s journey from New York City to Arizona and life in the Grand Canyon.

In 1973 at the age of 22, Aiken, his wife Mary and their infant daughter Mercy moved to their Roaring Springs home on Bright Angel Creek.  While there, Mary gave birth to two more children, a daughter Shirley Jo and a son Silas, and home-schooled all three children.  Aiken worked to maintain the pump house and pipes that supplied water to the Grand Canyon facilities.  He and his family also became intimately involved with their neighborhood, the Grand Canyon.

Aiken hiked the canyon and photographed, painted and drew its beauty.  He recorded historic changes in the canyon such as the 1995 flood.  His paintings also reflected changes in his techniques.  In the book, Aiken tells of his obsession with rock formations, and how this led to different sorts of painting to show the color and shape within the rocks.

He shares the hardships of making the trip to Flagstaff for art supplies.  He writes that he left at 5 a.m. on his day off, hiked 21 miles, drove 300 miles and returned to his home around midnight.  The next day he completed a painting. 

A self-portrait of his mother, Margaret Davis Aiken, along with some paintings she made of Aiken and his wife, Aiken’s father and Roaring Springs make up Appendix A.  Aiken writes of her influence on him from the time he was a child and how she worked as a talented artist in every media.

The book contains 130 full-color examples of the images Aiken produced while living in the Grand Canyon-some taking up two full pages.  The images alone would make the reader pick up the book, but the story of determination of a man to live his dream completes the picture and makes this book an excellent read.


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