Weird, Wild, and Wonderful, the stunning botanical art exhibit in the Ross Gallery, has been extended through October 26. This exhibition invites artists from around the world to seek out visually unusual plants and create works of art that celebrate the bizarre—yet beautiful—flora of the world. From 240 submissions, members of the American Society of Botanical Artists selected 46 works created by 45 artists from the U.S., Australia, Canada, India, Japan, and the U.K.
According to NYBG instructor and botanical artist Dick Rauh, the show’s emphasis is definitely on the “weird.” He writes, “There are certain botanical categories that provide us with almost limitless examples of strange-looking plants.” He mentions “the parasites,” such as the white stalks of Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) and the “evil-looking” Hydnora africana, also known as Jackal Food.
Other weird plants that Rauh notes include insectivorous plants, fungi, ferns, and those plants whose size would qualify as unusual, such as “the two-foot-wide inflorescence of the onion Allium giganteum, the huge bloom of Stapelia giganea, or living stones (Lithops spp.)—a rare example of floral camouflage. Many of these plants are featured in a gorgeous 76-page catalog of the artwork in the show, available in the Shop in the Garden.
Award-winning artist Asuka Hishiki describes how she found the wasabi plant (Eutremia japonica)—one of the prize-winning works in the exhibit—and what it was like painting it. Most of us think of wasabi as that blob of green paste served at Japanese restaurants, but Hishiki knows what it really looks like. As she explains:
“I found a wasabi farmer who ships it to customers directly. The wasabi on his website looked so fresh and his wasabi farm was just like a heaven… However, you should have seen my face when I received the wasabi from the farm. It was nothing like what I had seen in a market. I knew all the round shapes on the wasabi body are scars after the side roots have been cut off, but seeing the wasabi covered with thousands of fine roots simply shocked me. Yes, I knew that roots are normally cut off before it is shipped, and that’s why I particularly asked him to send it as “natural” as possible. What I never expected was that wasabi would have this many roots!”
Hishiki received a Gold Medal for “Wasabi, Eutrema japonica, Watercolor on paper.” Other award winners are Beverly Allen for “White batflower, Tacca integrifolia, Watercolor on paper”; and Julia Trickey for “Shield fern, Polystichium sp., Watercolor on paper”. Three artists received Honorable Mentions: for Artistic Merit, Dick Rauh for “Witch Hazel Capsules”; for Drawing, Joan McGann for “Crested Saguaro”; and for Vellum, Carol Woodin for “Muir Listens (Banksia).”
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You can view all of these artworks for the next few weeks of October—this show is not to be missed!
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