“I’m sitting here talking endlessly about my work when I’m completely aware of Matisse and what he said, that painters must begin by cutting out their tongues.”
(Don DeLillo, Underworld)

Here are some visual influences on my watercolors: snow, sandstone, granite, anything above timberline, deserts, oceans, and interchanges of  Los Angeles freeways.  Navajo weavings—Ganado Reds and Two Grey Hills—weavings that are really landscapes.  The skeletons of dormant trees.  The skeletons of dead animals.  These influences show an attraction to stark, simple designs.

My paintings of the Great Basin explore emptiness, or, as the poet Wallace Stevens calls it, “Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is” (“The Snow Man”).  Landscape is not a solved problem.  I want people to look at my paintings and to wonder.  Why are some things swirling around, and other things sitting still?  Why are some things so big, and others so small?  Are those trees happy, or sad?  In what ways are the past, present, and future all wrapped up together in the West?  What’s next?

Valerie Patricia Cohen was born to Ruth and John Mendenhall in 1946, in Pasadena, CA.  She earned a B.A. in English from U.C.L.A. (cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1968), and an M.A. in English from University of California at Riverside (1970). She later received an A.A. in Police Science at Southern Utah University (1978), that allowed her to work as a National Park Service Law Enforcement Ranger for many seasons, in Yosemite and Grand Teton Parks.

She has also worked as professional ski patrolman, typesetter and graphic designer, English Instructor, and backcountry cook.

In 1984 she commenced serious watercolor study with Milford Zornes (1908-2008), who introduced her to the style of the California School of Watercolor.  She continued this relationship for over twenty-five years; her work is also influenced by the teachers Christopher Schink, Skip Lawrence, Alex Powers, and Katherine Liu.

She is now an artist, writer, illustrator, and environmental activist, as the following selections indicate:

San Diego Watercolor Society International, CA (2021, 2019, 2017, 2016, 2010, 2002, 1995)
9th Annual International Signature Watermedia Exhibition, Fallbrook CA (2018)
Northwest Watercolor Society, 77th International Open Exhibition, 2017
Northwest Watercolor Society, 75th International Open Exhibition, 2015

Yosemite Renaissance and Traveling Exhibition (2023, 2021, 2016, 2012)
California Watercolor Association National, San Francisco, CA (2021, 2016, 2010, 2009, 2004)
Botanical Art Contest, California Native Plant Society (2012, 2018)
Signature American Watermedia Exhibition, Fallbrook, CA (2014)
Visual Arts Alliance Open, Houston, TX (2008)
Taos Watercolor Association National, Taos, NM (2007, 2000)
El Dorado Gallery Annual Miniature, Colorado Springs, CO (2003, 2001)
Arizona Aqueous, Tubac, AZ (1998, 1991, 1990, 1988)
Watercolor West, Riverside, CA (1993)
Arizona Commission on the Arts Traveling Show, AZ (1991)

UCLA Library Special Collections, Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform
Numerous exhibitions in Utah and Nevada, including Nevada Museum of Art Triennial (2005)

"Rocks and Trees," USFS Schulman Grove Vsitor Center, White Mountains CA, May through July, 2022
"Great Basin Sky and Shadows," Mono Lake Committee Gallery, Lee Vining CA, July 28, 2018 to February 2019
"Tree Lines," University of Nevada Reno, Sheppard Contemporary Art Gallery, 2017
"Tree Lines," UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance, 2016
Socialite Salon, Reno NV, 2013
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (2012)
Nevada Legislative Building, Carson City, NV  (2011, 2009, 2007, 2005)
Edisto Gallery, Mammoth Lakes, CA (2005)
Patagonia Inc., Reno, NV (2002)
Mammoth Lakes Foundation, Mammoth Lakes, CA (1999)
Ansel Adams Gallery, Mono Lake, CA (1999)
Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, Southern Utah University, UT (1998, 1994, 1992)
Central Arts Center, Ephraim, UT (1998)

Judge's Merit, Sierra Watercolor Society (2020)
Mijello Mission Gold Award, San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibition (2019)
Mijello Mission Gold Award, Annual Signature American Watermedia International, 2018
San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibition, Juror's Commendation Certificate, 2017
Yosemite Renaissance Exhibition, 2016
Tom & Sharon Koehler Award, 5th Annual Signature American Watermedia Exhibition, 2014
Poster Contest Winner: Sierra Summer Festival, Mammoth Lakes CA, 2006 and 2014
Poster Contest Winner: State of Utah Prehistory Week, 1994
Prizes in many local and regional juried shows

Michael P. Cohen, George C. Williams and Evolutionary Literacy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022)
Valerie P. Cohen and Michael P. Cohen, Tree Lines (University of Nevada Press, 2017)
Balaev, Michelle, Ed., Contemporary Approaches to Literary Trauma Theory (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014)
Balaev, Michelle, The Nature of Trauma in the American Novel (Northwestern University Press, 2012)

Claude Fiddler, Inside the High Sierra (2021)
Michael P. Cohen, Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite (University of Nevada Press, 2019) 
Valerie P. Cohen and Michael P. Cohen, Tree Lines (University of Nevada Press, 2017)
The Aqueduct Sonnets (Regents of the University of California, October 2014)
Edge Volume 8 (Tahoe Writers Works, 2014)
Mountain Views (United States Forest Service, spring and fall 2014)
Cohen, Valerie, Mono Craters and June Lake: a Summer Journal (2013)
Glotfelty, Cheryll, ed., Literary Nevada (University of Nevada Press, 2008) - medallion
Cohen, Michael P., A Garden of Bristlecones (University of Nevada Press, 1998)
Utah Women’s Art Project, Out of the Land (1993)
Lee, David, Shadow Weaver (Brooding Heron Press, 1984)
Setnicka, Tim, Wilderness Search and Rescue (Appalachian Mountain Club, 1980)
Mendenhall, R. and J., Basic Rock Climbing (Stackpole Books, 1971)

"Desolation in the Fall," Mountain View Chronicle (December, 2020)
"Sketched In," Reno News and Review (4-13-2017)
"Valerie P. Cohen: Tree Lines," Generation Boomer (Spring, 2017)
"There is no Plein Air," The Palette Magazine (#56, 2016)
"Redundancy in National Watercolor Shows," The Palette Magazine (Fall, 2015)
"Tree Lines," in "Boom: a Journal of California" (University of California Press, Summer 2015)
"The Aqueduct Sonnets" (Regents of the University of California, October 2014)
"Edge Vol. 8" (Tahoe Writers Works, 2014)
"Mountain Views" (United States Forest Service, spring and fall 2014)
"Valerie P. Cohen's Summer Watercolor Journal," KCET TV's Artbound Journal (February, 2014)
"Valerie P. Cohen." Judson's Plein Air Journal (January 13, 2014)
"Mono Craters and June Lake," in "Boom: A Journal of California" (University of California Press, Fall 2013)
"Mountain Views: the Newsletter of the Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains" (Fall, 2013)
"A Walk Into Abstracts ... How Did They Do That?" ebook and DVD, 2012.
"Concept -- Valerie Cohen," The Palette Magazine (#42, 2012)
"Reno Artist Valerie P. Cohen: Personal Embrace of the Western Landscape," Generation Boomer (#11, 2011)
“Painting in Grief,” The Palette Magazine (#32, 2010)
“Finding Your Mark,” The Palette Magazine (#25, 2008)
“Insight” (radio interview), Capitol Public Radio (2008)
“Not Making It Look How It Looks” (online interview), Great Basin News (2002)  (http://www.greatbasinweb.com/vcohen.htm)
“Painting the Edges,” Reno News and Review (2002)
“Summer Landscapes,” Watercolor ’94 – American Artist Magazine (1994)

Woman on the Rocks: the Mountaineering Letters of Ruth Dyar Mendenhall, edited by Valerie Mendenhall Cohen (Spotted Dog Press, 2007)

North American Review
Four Minute Fictions
From the Attic
Network Magazine
Earth First!
Silver Vain
National Parks Policy

San Diego Watercolor Society Signature Member
California Watercolor Association Signature Member
Sierra Watercolor Society

Voters for Open Space, artist, NV (2010)
Coalition for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, communiy organizer and artist, NV (2001-2002)
Taxpayers for Safe Utah Roads, Chair, Board of Trustees, UT  (1992-1996)
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Board of Directors, UT (1986)
MX Missile Project, peace activist, UT (1979-1981)
United Farmworkers of America, union volunteer, CA (1971-1973

UCLA Library Special Collections
Renown Regional Medical Center, Reno NV
Patagonia, Inc., Ventura CA and Reno NV
Magick Botanicals, Santa Ana CA
Cedar City Corporation, Cedar City UT
E.L. Wiegand Foundation

Valerie P. Cohen - Paintings
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