Kevin Adams steps into his landscapes

Washington-based artist is Shenandoah’s Artist-in-Residence

Kevin H. Adams has been so excited while packing up his myriad paints, brushes and canvases — the largest of which will rest on a makeshift “backcountry” easel — he’s like a kid going off to summer camp.

By John McCaslin
Kevin H. Adams discusses his Shenandoah Artist-in-Residence selection while pausing at his Gay Street Gallery studio this week.

Which isn’t too far of a stretch.

Shenandoah National Park has just selected the highly regarded Rappahannock-based artist as its prestigious June Artist-in-Residence. A former United States Marine Corps officer and combat artist, Adams was previously commissioned by Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Glacier National Park in Montana.

“And that was a long time ago,” he recalls in his Gay Street Gallery studio in Washington, which showcases several of the artist’s emerging landscapes and figurative paintings.

The residency runs from Monday, June 12 through Friday, June 23, when by day — “sunrise to sunset, and well into dusk,” Adams expects — he will be painting forests, waterfalls and overlooks deep inside the park, pausing only to sleep at night in a Skyland cabin.

Furthermore, the artist will be sharing his inspiration with park visitors, who on a daily basis will be informed at entrance stations and via online postings on Shenandoah’s website where exactly Adams is painting on a particular day.

“And they can paint with me!” he reveals. “I’m excited to have visitors join me, when I will be able to slow them down — let them see for themselves how precious these parks are, and how fun they can be for young people.”

Better yet, budding artists need not lug art supplies and canvases up and down the trails to whichever perch Adams plants his sizeable homemade easel for the day.

“A grant from the RAAC Claudia Mitchell Arts fund has paid for the art supplies used for the public portion of this residency,” Adams explains, although the Artist-in-Residence program itself is supported by a very generous donation from the Shenandoah National Park Trust.

“Donors to the Shenandoah National Park Trust are proud to fund programs like Artist-in-Residence,” says Shenandoah National Park Trust President Susan Sherman, “which explore new opportunities to connect people with this remarkable landscape.”

Adds Shenandoah Superintendent Jennifer Flynn, “We are excited to have Kevin Adams as the park’s next Artist-in-Residence, to share his talent with our visitors and to continue to create works of art that celebrate and commemorate the wonderful national treasure that is Shenandoah National Park.”

Park visitors also are invited to join Adams for a public program and interactive demonstration on Saturday, June 17, at 1:30 p.m. at the Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 on Skyline Drive). This event is a scheduled part of Shenandoah National Park’s “Park Neighbor Day,” when entrance fees for all visitors will be waived.

Courtesy photo
Artist Kevin Adams paints one of his many landscape masterpieces during a previous visit to Shenandoah National Park.

Adams foresees painting 40 canvases during his residency, the largest of which — “4 feet square” — he will present to Shenandoah National Park as part of the residency.

As for the additional 39 landscapes, the artist plans to hold an exhibition of his Shenandoah works in the not too distant future.

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at