WASHINGTON – Growing up with stories of the Japanese internment camps where her parents were held during World War II, artist Jamie Paulson often heard about the wood-frame buildings, the concrete bareness and the cold. But when she visited the Manzanar National Historic Site, Paulson said she found something she never expected: beauty. Paulson captured the unlikely allure of the Owens Valley war relocation camp this year in an even more unlikely place – an ornament that now adorns the White House Christmas Tree. “There’s a beauty there and a resilience and a feeling of people trying to make the best of what their situation was. It made me feel proud,” said Paulson, who lives in Sebastopol. Sandra Glover, who lives in Malibu, was selected to paint the ornament for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The ornament features the park’s highest point, Sandstone Peak, as well as the beach below; the Backbone Trail, which roughly follows the crest of the mountains, as well as people, and indigenous wildlife. “I wanted to capture a little bit of everything,” said Glover. A naturalist with the city of Malibu and a member of the Allied Artists of Santa Monica – a nonprofit group that donates part of its proceeds from art shows to environmental causes – Glover said creating the ornament combined her loves of painting and wildlife. “I was always an outdoors kind of girl. The kind of kid who played with frogs. My bedroom looked like a natural history museum,” she said. After moving to California from her native Florida, Glover said she fell in love with the mountains. “I was amazed that there was so much open space and wild areas right outside of Los Angeles. It blew my mind,” she said. To create their ornaments, artists said they sketched out and sometimes painted their depictions before working on the glass sphere provided. Carre Shandor, an artist who works as a facilities management specialist at Death Valley National Park and painted the park’s ornament, attended a White House reception earlier this month and was able to see her design hanging on the tree. Shandor said she, too, struggled with what to include on the ornament. She and a team of interpreters at the park finally settled on Scotty’s Castle, a two-story Spanish villa that is one of the park’s most visited sites; Zabriskie Point and the surrounding badlands; bighorn sheep and a variety of fish and wildlife. “It’s kind of a misunderstood park,” Shandor said of Death Valley. “People just don’t think we’re pretty, because we don’t have trees. But we’re a geology wonderland out here.” A Texas native, Shandor was raised in Orange County and has been working at Death Valley about nine years. A self-taught artist, she works in acrylic craftwork and said the ornament was a departure from her typical avant-garde style. Attending the East Room reception and seeing the Death Valley ornament on the White House tree was a thrill, she said. It was near the bottom, but that didn’t matter. “So now I’m in the White House,” Shandor said proudly. “It’s not something I ever thought would happen.” HOLIDAYS AT THE WHITE HOUSE BY THE NUMBERS Volunteers: 73 Visitors touring the White House: 60,000 Christmas cards sent by the president: 895,000 Christmas trees: 33 Hand-decorated ornaments on Blue Room Christmas tree: 347 Feet of garland: 862 Wreaths: 232 Christmas cookies: 20,000 Holiday cakes: 700 Handmade tamales: 10,000 Pounds of shrimp: 1,000 Gallons of eggnog: 320 SOURCE: White House160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonHer ornament – which depicts the camp’s cemetery monument framed by the Sierra Nevada mountains, as well as the guardhouse and a barracks block – is part of the White House’s “Holiday in the National Parks” theme this year. It is among 347 hand-painted depictions of the country’s national parks, memorials, seashores and historic sites. “We think that our national parks are more precious than gold to the United States,” first lady Laura Bush said during a recent showing of the tree. “They’re our major and most fabulous landscapes, from Yosemite to Denali to the Everglades. But they’re also our sacred historical sites.” Also festooning the 18-foot Fraser fir in the White House Blue Room are ornaments representing Joshua Tree, the Santa Monica Mountains, Death Valley and Channel Islands. All were designed and painted by local artists.