Annual Meeting & Conference  

Phoenix Preview

October 15 – 17, 2009 

Originally appeared in The Botanical Artist – Volume 15, Issue 1 


Plan to join ASBA and one of its newest chapters, the Southwest Society of Botanical Artists, this October for three days of botanical art, fun and learning in the “Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix, Arizona. Events are based at the Desert Botanical Garden (, Phoenix Art Museum (, our “home away from home,” the Chaparral Suites Resort in Scottsdale ( and many other exciting locations. Immerse yourself in the exotic and unique beauty of the desert. 

The opportunity to see worldclass botanical art is always a highlight of any ASBA conference. This year, there are two outstanding exhibitions. The juried international ASBA exhibition A Natural Perspective will open at the prestigious Phoenix Art Museum on Thursday night, with a reception for artists and museum members. A second exhibition features works by recipients of the Diane Bouchier Founder’s Award for Excellence in Botanical Art and the Biennial Award for Botanical Art in the Service of Science, in the Otteson Gallery at the Desert Botanical Garden. 

For in-depth instruction, ASBA is offering three post- or preconference workshops with internationally renowned botanical artists. Jean Emmons and Kate Nessler will each offer a threeday intensive workshop October 12-14, with Lizzie Sanders’ workshop October 19-21. Adding on a few days before or after the conference is a great opportunity to learn from these stellar artists while supporting the ASBA. 

Thursday morning begins early with a full breakfast at the Chaparral Suites and a perennial favorite, the Artists’ Portfolio Sharing. All member participants are invited to bring their portfolios to display and share. Next we gather for the ASBA General Meeting and Luncheon. This is an opportunity to catch up on the business aspect of ASBA and meet our hardworking board members after their day-long meeting preceding the conference. Then, we’ll all go to the Desert Botanical Garden for the opening of ASBA Award of Excellence Exhibit. Sign up for a workshop in dissecting flowers, working with complex subjects, and more, or take a tour featuring desert trees (yes, there are some!) or ethnobotany. Or you can sample a wealth of different media being demonstrated at the Technique Showcase, including drawing with cochineal (the red dye of an insect), using a stylus made from a yucca plant, acrylics, basket weaving with native grasses, pressing cacti for the herbarium, and a special treat – a side-by-side demo featuring Jean Emmons and Lizzie Sanders. 

We then return to Chaparral Suites to put our feet up before heading out to the Thursday evening reception at The Phoenix Art Museum for the juried international ASBA exhibition A Natural Perspective. 

After your full breakfast, Friday’s events are held at several locations. A bus to the Wallace Desert Gardens will allow sketching in the unique Boojum Tree forest with botanist and award-winning artist, Dick Rauh. At the Desert Botanical Garden, increase your knowledge with Color Curriculum, Juror Training or the Education Forum for teachers of botanical art, or drawing a seedpod in silverpoint. Or for something completely different, try the timehonored local art of gourd carving! At the Chaparral Resort, take an all day workshop featuring the bold yet sensitive graphic work, the Illuminated Desert with Elaine Hultgren or the delicate handling of succulents with England’s Elaine Searle. A wealth of activities are available for your pleasure and edification. 

ASBA has a deep commitment to the preservation of native wildflowers. Friday, the Annual Wildflower Forum will include a presentation, Rare Plants of the Desert, a tour and overview of DBG’s Seed Saving Program and more. After returning to the hotel, a panel discussion from 6-7:30 PM will focus on how we as botanical artists can make a difference in wildflower preservation. We will formally adopt the ASBA Code of Ethics. Everyone will be encouraged to attend. Light snacks will be served and afterwards you are free for dinner 

Saturday features full-day workshops with, among others, Elaine Searle and award-winning colored pencil artist Elliott Everson. Here are some other offerings you can look forward to: Scientific Drawing: from Pencil to Pen and Ink; Drawing Cacti: Focus on Spines; a discussion with well known art dealer, Susan Frei Nathan and a lecture on the Business of Art. Trips to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West (www.franklloydwright. org), the Heard Museum ( with its outstanding collections of native peoples’ art and culture and its world famous gift shop, plus a return to the Phoenix Art Museum offer you more cultural flavors of the southwest. 

This is a taste of the great experiences that await you in Phoenix this fall. The Silent Auction, awards presentations and closing banquet, with keynote speaker botanist and botanical artist Wendy Hodgson, are a grande finale to the conference. The Silent Auction raises money to support ASBA’s Artists and Educational grants as well as our quarterly journal The Botanical Artist. And, the auction is a chance to find some great bargains in original artwork, art supplies and botanically themed items! All of the meeting details will be in the June issue of The Botanical Artist, and registration will begin then. 

Visit the Valley of the Sun this fall for the 15th ASBA Annual Meeting and Conference in Phoenix, Arizona – we’re looking forward to seeing you! 

  • The Desert Botanic Gardens offer a lush array of desert plants. Photo: Adam Rodriguez
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West offers sweeping vistas and refreshing nooks, like this inviting water feature. Photo: L. Kyer