SWSBA Reports on Chapter Activities

Originally appeared in The Botanical Artist - Volume 18, Issue 2


SWSBA members have been particularly busy during the first quarter of 2012.  To begin, members contributed illustrations to Legumes of Arizona: An Illustrated Flora and Reference for The University of Arizona’s Desert Legume Program. The Program held an exhibition of a selection of these artworks at Boyce Thompson Arboretum for two months this year. As well as completed drawings, works-in-progress were displayed, showing various stages of production. “The exhibit provided an opportunity for the public to view original illustrations before publication and to learn about the scientific illustration process,” says Kirsten Lake, Program project coordinator. 

The West Valley Arts Council (WVAC), the AZ SciTech Festival, and Glendale Arts Commission sponsored Botanical Art & Illustration, an exhibit held during Arizona’s SciTech in February and March. Karen Gengle’s pen and ink illustration Echinocereus engelmannii received Second Place. Susan Ashton got Third Place for her watercolor Castilleja kaibabensis, and Joyce Peters and Diane Dockery Hazard both received Honorable Mentions.

The organizers of the AZ SciTech Festival wanted to incorporate art,” says WVAC President & CEO Julie Richard.  I had seen the Margaret Mee exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago and it left a distinct impression on me.” She felt botanical arat would be a perfect match for this festival.  Richard opened the botanical art competition to artists outside the WVAC membership. This botanical exhibit will be repeated annually. Members of SWSBA attended a meeting at the Art Institute of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) in Tucson, to learn about the latest projects of The Sonoran Desert Florilegium Program, (www.sonorandesertflorilegium.org).

Margaret Pope, chair of the Program’s steering committee, tells us, “The goals of the Florilegium Program are to collect, exhibit, and archive historical, contemporary, and future botanical art of the Sonoran Desert flora. Among our first activities was to accession, archive and scan over 1300 pen and ink illustrations at the University of Arizona Herbarium.” This treasure trove of illustrations was in disarray, hidden away where no one could see them. Many of the illustrations are by Lucretia Breazeale Hamilton, an internationally regarded botanical illustrator of the plants of the region. 

The Florilegium Program now seeks contemporary artworks. Scientifically accurate color pieces depicting plants including mountain, riparian and grassland areas within and adjacent to the region are sought. An exhibit at the ASDM Ironwood Gallery from September 14–October 27, 2013: Botanical Art of the Sonoran Desert: Past and Present, is in the works (See Calls for Entries on page 26).

As an adjunct to exhibition activities, in March, Dr. Judy Kula, Phoenix College Art Instructor, who has exhibited nationally, provided a workshop for SWSBA on the jury process for exhibitions. SWSBA members experienced the challenge of being jurors in an exercise using numerous traditional and contemporary botanical artworks. This was followed by Lynn Reves, SWSBA President, presenting an April session on how to frame art to sell. Reves has extensive experience framing in a retail setting, and the topic dovetailed nicely into the activities and needs of members with planned events still to come.

  • Marina parryi, Parry’s False Prairie-clover, 11x14”, pen and ink, ©Susan E. Ashton 2012
  • Echinocereus engelmannii, 11x14” pen and ink on Bristol board, ©Karen Gengle 2012