welcome to yosemite renaissance

Works (from left to right) by Stephanie Martin, Corey Peters, Kathy Barnhart, Carolyn Hesse-Low, and Theresa Grams

Works (from left to right) by Stephanie Martin, Corey Peters, Kathy Barnhart, Carolyn Hesse-Low, and Theresa Grams

The Yosemite Renaissance was founded in 1985 to "motivate artists to develop diverse interpretations of Yosemite and its varied landscapes." Artists from around the country have been showcased in the annual Yosemite Renaissance traveling exhibit for more than thirty years. 

For over three decades, Yosemite Renaissance has encouraged and promoted diverse artistic expressions of Yosemite National Park and the surrounding area.

Founded by a small group of visionaries with a passion for the arts and the Sierra Nevada wilderness, Yosemite Renaissance was set up to continue the legacy of the great, influential artists of the past - including Thomas A. Ayers, Albert Bierstadt, William Keith, Thomas Hill and Ansel Adams, to name just a few. Yosemite National Park was their inspiration. They captured the hearts and imaginations of a nation, and their art encouraged visitors, generated support and aided in the preservation of the park.

The Yo-Semite Falls, Lithograph by Thomas A. Ayers (1855)

It is as important now as it was more than 160 years ago to continue this legacy; to encourage a new generation of artists and photographers to “dig a little deeper” to discover and express the awesome grandeur and the subtle nuances that is a part of the Yosemite experience. 

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” - Edward Hopper

Art brings people together from all nations and cultures. It engages in a universal language. We have an innate need to express ourselves and share our experience. We are visual and tactile beings and through art we are able to connect with others. It can spark a thought or emotion. It can jog a memory. It enables us to slow down, become aware and be in the moment.

Mirror Lake and Reflections, Charles L. Weed (1864)

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. “ - Aristotle

The audience is as important as the art. While the artist may express a personal emotion through their art, the viewer creates their own experience with it.  In this way art becomes interactive and a dynamic and intimate synergy is created. Whether serious or whimsical, art can recreate an emotional response that reflects and reminds us of the experience we had when visiting Yosemite and the surrounding areas.

Imagination and creativity are the pathway to the future. Come join us on the journey.

 ”A world without Art is a world where progress has stopped.” carts.org (A New York City based, cultural education program.)

Yosemite Valley, Albert Bierstadt (1863 – 75)



YR Logo Rev.jpg


We are excited to announce that the jury process for Yosemite Renaissance 32 is complete. 65 works by 61 outstanding artists will be included. The exhibit will kick-off with an official opening and presentation of awards at the historic Museum Gallery in Yosemite National Park on Feb 24th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and will be on display from February 25th through April 30th, 2017.  The exhibit will then travel on to be shared with the public at other California art centers.

Folllow the link below for a list of artists participating in this year's show, and for more information about YR32!


"Being a part of Yosemite Renaissance this past year has been an extraordinarily rewarding experience. Yosemite Renaissance continues to thrive due to the continued interest of artists from all mediums to capture the essence of this magnificent national park. It is inspiring to see the many ways artists highlight and focus on elements that might otherwise go unnoticed. Yosemite Renaissance continues to be a way to bring these revelations to excite and engage a broader audience.

Thank you to all the artists who have participated over the past three decades. Thank you Mariposa County for your ongoing support. I am truly grateful for the many who have supported me over the past year!"

Christine Obers, Director 10/2015 - 11/2016

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I Was Told there Would be Pie - YR32 Invitation Cover Artist Theresa Grams

Theresa Grams, I was Told there Would be Pie Oil Painting.  Courtesy of the artist.

Theresa Grams, I was Told there Would be Pie

Oil Painting.  Courtesy of the artist.

We are excited to announce the cover artist for the Yosemite Renaissance 32 Invitation, Theresa Grams. The painting depicts a dynamic and colorful portrait of a black bear, (well actually blue), poised as if alerted to something that has caught its interest. 

Grams says: "The intent of my art is simple – to share the beauty I see in nature with others.  I often visit national and state parks, family farms, some of the 10,000 lakes here in Minnesota, and even go on Sunday drives in the country to be inspired by the beauty of animals and nature.  A camera is always within my reach during any trip I take. 

Once I have an image that really captures my interest, I create the initial sketch on the canvas and then begin the creation process.  After the paint used for color blocking of the sketch dries, I use a wet on dry layering technique, often with very bold colors.  The multiple paint layers filled with unexpected coloring and texture, along the interest created by a bit of abstraction within realistic figure, brings an energy and depth into my work which I feel helps to showcase the beauty of my subject.  Visit http://www.tgramsfineart.com/ to view more works by the artist."

The title of the painting, “I was told there would be pie”, draws attention to issues related to human interaction with bears in Yosemite and in wild places across the country. 

Collared Bear, Yosemite National Park. Photograph by Ryan Wharton

Collared Bear, Yosemite National Park. Photograph by Ryan Wharton

As one of the largest mammals in the Sierra Nevada, American black bears often attract the interest of park visitors, who observe, paint, and photograph them in Yosemite National Park. Weighing, on average, between 150 and 250 pounds, most of Yosemite's black bears are brown in color—despite their name. Seeing one of Yosemite’s 300 to 500 black bears is a special experience that can evoke excitement, awe, and sometimes fear. But what people don’t often realize is while injuries to people from bears in the Sierra are rare, it is more likely a person will cause harm to a bear by leaving food or garbage where a bear can get it, or by speeding on a mountain road.

Bears in Yellowstone, begging for food, circa 1960

Bears in Yellowstone, begging for food, circa 1960

With their incredible strength, curiosity, sense of smell, and hunger (consuming up to 20,000 calories in a single day when fattening up for hibernation), black bears make the best of any food source they find—but this behavior gets bears into trouble. Once bears learn to associate people or human development with food, they quickly lose their natural fear and avoidance of people, and instead approach people and destroy property in their quest to gain more food. Bears will attempt amazing acts to obtain food. They break windows, bend car-door frames, pop open camper shells, and even rip out a back seat to get food left in a trunk of a vehicle. Because these bears become comfortable getting close to people, potential safety issues often results in their being killed.

The good news is: this can all be prevented with your help! When spending time in an area with black bears, please remember to store your food and garbage properly. In Yosemite, this means storing food and trash in bear canisters in the wilderness, food lockers while camping in the front country, and bear proof trash cans. Remember that bears are active during the day too, so if you are out enjoying the park, keep your food within arm’s reach. If you do see a bear, enjoy the moment, but please give them the respect they deserve and plenty of space to roam freely and remain wild.