Chandler artist earns Grand Canyon award The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler artist earns Grand Canyon award

October 6th, 2020 Chandler Arizona Staff
Chandler artist earns Grand Canyon award

David M. Brown
Arizonan Contributor

Chandler artist Matt Sterbenz is not only one of a number of artists who participated in last month’s 12th annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art at Grand Canyon National Park; he also walked away with the People’s Choice Award.

The show attracts professional artists nationwide who paint “en plein air” – or, on location, at various South Rim spots.

“It seems like I always learn something new, no matter where I paint at the Grand Canyon,” said Sterbenz, who participated for the fifth year.

“Since I am usually camping, I like painting near the Yavapai Geology Museum for the sunrise; it’s closest to the campground, so I don’t have to wake up too early,” he said.

“Art played a crucial role in the formation of our national parks and continues to do so in our appreciation of them, and the Celebration of Fine Art helps to keep the artistic tradition part of the Grand Canyon experience,” said Mindy Riesenberg, spokeswoman for the Grand Canyon Conservancy, the official nonprofit partner of Grand Canyon National Park.

Among its many supportive activities, the nonprofit organization operates retail shops in the park, provides educational programs, maintains trails and historic buildings and protects wildlife.

In this case, the money raised from the online and onsite arts sale will raise funds to build an art venue at the Grand Canyon, she explained.

The studio pieces created by each artist are available for purchase on online at until Jan. 18.

Sterbenz, a Phoenix native, recalled, “I spent a lot of time looking out the car windows on family road trips and painting from photos in old ‘Arizona Highways’ magazines.

“Family camping and fishing trips gave me an appreciation and love for the outdoors, and it seemed like only a matter of time before I brought my easel along with me.”

He started painting as a kid.

“I had a cheap set of watercolors, and I tried to follow along while watching Bob Ross on TV. I told my parents that I wanted to try oil paints, and they got me a set for Christmas, when I was in the third or fourth grade.”

Shortly after graduating from ASU, he met his future wife Carrie and they settled in Chandler.

The Grand Canyon is his favorite place to paint. Here he can best fulfil his artistic goal: “Rather than simply portraying a landscape, I strive to paint the experience of being outdoors,” he said, noting that he still paints in oils.

One work he is taking this year to Celebration of Fine Art is “Zoroaster’s Embrace”: “Grand Canyon is full of ever-changing beauty. Light, clouds, rain, and the canyon are all fighting for attention.

These scenes can last just moments before they fade and change into something equally beautiful but entirely different,” he explained.

“Here, a monsoon storm brings thunder and rain. Zoroaster Temple emerges from the cool depths, standing strong, gathering warm light and radiating the sun’s glow,” he said. 

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