Editor's note: The Museum of Northern Arizona provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Museum of Northern Arizona directly through either this phone number or web address:


Everett Ruess and the Search for Beauty

November 10 - December 17, 2006


Everett Ruess and the Search for Beauty, an exhibit of 26 Ruess woodblock prints and accompanying writings opens November 10, for a five-week showing through December 17, 2006 at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.   (left: Everett Ruess, Granite and Cypress, woodblock print)

Ruess was a young artist and writer who wandered the wilds of the Southwest and mysteriously disappeared in the Escalante Canyons in 1934, at the age of twenty. His travels on the southern Colorado Plateau earned this itinerant artist local notoriety. When he mysteriously vanished in Davis Gulch, outside the small town of Escalante, his burros were found near his camp, but his fate was unknown. Ruess became a larger-than-life romantic legend and a symbol of the wilderness he revered.  

The love and respect Ruess felt for the places he roamed were expressed in his poems and essays, as well as in the images he carved for his precious block prints. He would trade or sell these prints to the occasional tourist and passerby to help pay his way for himself and his burros. Thus, the few extra dollars brought him to another vista, and eventually to another piece of art. His wanderlust and his art became inseparable.

Ruess's woodblock prints and writings have captivated many and inspired them to seek out  remote corners of the region, in their own search for beauty and the peace that can be found in the rugged, sandstone canyons and open spaces of Plateau country. This collection spans the last five years of Ruess's short life, from the age of fifteen to twenty. His work portrays a variety of scenic landscapes from his travels along the California coast, high into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and in the deserts and canyons of Utah and Arizona.

More than 70 years later, these images still speak to us with vigor and force, chronicling the evolution of a maturing talent, fully capable of capturing nature in bold and simple terms. Ruess sought artistic advice from well-known artists of his day: landscape painter Maynard Dixon, and photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Edward Weston, and was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, popular in the early twentieth century.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Utah Arts Council (www.arts.utah.gov/) and is co-curated by MNA Guest Curator of Fine Art Alan Petersen. Additional information about Ruess can be found at www.everettruess.net.

The Museum offers two public programs in conjunction with Everett Ruess and the Search for Beauty. Both programs take place at the Museum and are included with admission.  


The Legend of Everett Ruess November 18, 2-3 p.m
One of Arizona's most intriguing personalities, Everett Ruess was an artist who wandered the canyons, deserts, and forests of the Colorado Plateau in search of beauty and adventure. The events surrounding his departure remain a mystery today. Join Steve Yoder, executive director at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, on a photographic journey that follows Ruess into the heart of a land that has changed little since his disappearance. Theories surrounding Ruess's disappearance will also be explored. Yoder's pursuit of the Ruess legend has spanned a decade and he has spent much of his free time retracing Everett's footsteps through the canyons of the Colorado Plateau.  
The Landscapes of Everett Ruess December 2, 3-4 p.m
Young Everett Ruess wandered the formidable terrain at the heart of the Colorado Plateau with his string of burros, drawing, writing, and reveling in his "vagrant life," then vanishing in the canyons of the Escalante. Archeologist Don Keller and naturalist Ann Weiler Walka, both seasoned MNA Ventures guides, and musician Bill Burke present poetry, music, and stories of their own travels to spirit you into the country where Ruess disappeared.

Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy


Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Museum of Northern Arizona in Resource Library.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art, calendars, and much more.

© Copyright 2006 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.