Bruce Aiken

Bruce Aiken Honors Faculty in Residence
Northern Arizona University
Honors College and Art
Phone: 928-523-3334
Fax: 928-523-6558

One of the leading painters of the Grand Canyon and of the American Southwest today, Bruce Aiken was born in New York City, where he was classically trained in New York’s School of Visual Arts. As a young man, he left New York on a quest to encounter the most stimulating and dynamic artistic muse he could find. After arriving in Arizona, it did not take him long to discover the Grand Canyon.

Serving with the National Park Service from 1973 to 2006, he lived at Roaring Springs, some 5 and a half miles below the north rim. . There he over saw the production of  the public water supply for Grand Canyon National Park. The task included the maintenance of the pipeline, pumping infrastructure and water quality control.  He and his wife, Mary, also raised their three children in the Canyon’s depths, all the while Bruce pursued a dual career as a full-time employee of NPS and an artist.  

Relentlessly curious, Bruce channeled his considerable energy into a life-long study of the Canyon, the Colorado Plateau, and the American Southwest. His library, field notes, sketches and journals are filled with his personal and perceptive insights ranging from botany to geology to modern human resource issues; the result of 40 years of keen observation and humble appreciation for the unique beauty of the region.  It has been said that every artist paints his own autobiography.  In the case of Bruce Aiken, the story of his soul is clearly discerned from his prolific output of nearly 400 paintings, drawings, pastels, and other forms of creative media related to his first-hand experience of the Grand Canyon.   The majority of his personal letters, documents, field notes and photographs will ultimately be  housed in NAU’s Cline Library Special Collections Archive.

His work has been shown and collected around the world in corporate and private collections, with special commissions from such prestigious clients as NASA and the White House, among others.  Recent career highlights include a 2011 retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the 2007 publication of his award-winning biographical coffee table book, “Bruce Aiken’s Grand Canyon – An Intimate Affair.” His extraordinary life and career has also been documented by such media outlets as the History Channel, the Disney Channel, ABC Good Morning America, CBS 48 Hours, People Magazine, and National Geographic Magazine.

Following his retirement from the National Park Service, Bruce and Mary chose to make Flagstaff their home; with Bruce throwing his dynamic energy into the local art community.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Flagstaff Cultural Partners and is Chairman of the Flagstaff Beautification and Public Arts Commission. He is also sought-out as a speaker on matters ranging from art to his personal history and perspective of the region, while he continues to spin out all things artistic and Grand Canyon from his downtown Flagstaff studio.


Bruce's position as Honors Artist in Residence is partially funded by a gift from Arizona Public Service APS_logo