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Happy Birthday, Grand Canyon Nat’l Park!

Grand Canyon National Park, a free government service, a 20x200 Vintage Edition
10"x8" ($24) | 14"x11" ($60) | 20"x16" ($240) | 30"x24" ($800) 

HBD to Grand Canyon National Park! Tomorrow is the 98th anniversary of its official designation. The 15th oldest park in the history of the National Park Service, Grand Canyon National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and is widely regarded as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. We’re pretty sure that title’s well deserved—carved out by the Colorado River, the canyon measures a whopping 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and over a mile deep. Eye-catching doesn’t quite cut it.

The Grand Canyon officially became federally protected land on February 26th, 1919, though it was already well-known among Americans. Here's a highbrow analogy: if our National Parks program were a high school, Grand Canyon National Park would definitely be part of the popular clique. With nearly six million visitors in 2016, it’s the second most popular national park in the U.S. (Great Smoky Mountains is the reigning Parks prom queen). Its popularity is no surprise—the Grand Canyon is wont to leave its visitors totally gobsmacked.

Today’s edition was designed by artists of the Works Progress Administration in an effort to advertise that the parks were ready for visitors. Between 1938 and 1941, the WPA designed 14 silkscreened promotional posters, of which only 12 have been recovered, including this pastel Grand Canyon poster. We’re particularly fond of the softly Southwesterny color combo: dusty peach (shout out to Millennial Pink), faded violet, sage green, and terra cotta highlights.

In case this wasn't obvious, we’re big proponents of the National Parks Service, but we also recognize it has a history marred by classism and racism. The NPS was initially created to benefit the white and wealthy and validate their “ownership” of American natural spaces, predicated on the belief that the preservation of nature could serve to enhance peace, pleasure and "purity" for that specific group of people. But its problematic history isn't all she wrote—In present day USA, the NPS has the potential to empower all of us.

The NPS not only protects the ecology of the places under its stewardship, it ensures those places are available to the public, drawing hundreds of millions of visitors every year. It provides access to the beauty and respite of nature, one of the few experiences outside the grasp of consumerism and capitalism. It’s a roadblock between our natural resources and the people who would rather divvy them up as property. The NPS is in a unique position to fight for the common good, keeping one eye trained on future generations and the future of our national lands. At a time when our government doesn’t seem to have the same priorities, this federal agency is all the more important.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200

P.S. Been tracking the rogue NPS Twitter accounts? If not, take a look here.