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Past Exhibitions


February 6 - May 3, 2015

Arizona Indigenous: New Turned Wood by Philip & Matt Moulthrop

The Desert Botanical Garden presented new works by world-renowned artists Philip and Matt Moulthrop. The exhibition featured a collection of turned wood that revealed the inherent beauty of trees and shrubs native to Arizona. Woodturning has been a Moulthrop family legacy for three generations and their pieces are immediately recognizable by their distinct contemporary forms. You can find their work in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institute, the American Craft Museum of New York, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.

September 26, 2014 to January 4, 2015

Fish out of Water

Guests joined artist Joe McAuliffe and the Desert Botanical Garden as they celebrated the water that sustains present-day societies in Arizona. With gyotaku impressions of fish from local canals, rivers, lakes and ponds, Dr. McAuliffe uses this ancient Japanese technique to tell stories that reflect his interest in natural history and conservation, and the relationships of fish and human culture.

In addition to the pursuit of this art form, McAuliffe is a research ecologist and director of research at the Desert Botanical Garden. Before he began working in desert environments in the 1980s, his research and publications included studies of aquatic life, including fish, amphibians, turtles and insects.

To learn more about McAuliffe's artwork, visit zengyotaku.com.

November 10, 2013 to May 18, 2014

Chihuly in the Garden

Discovery and surprise awaited guests on the Garden trails during Chihuly in the Garden. Artist Dale Chihuly returned to the Desert Botanical Garden the fall of 2013 with a stunning exhibition of his extraordinary and vibrant works of art. Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from craft to fine art. He is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums and gardens. Chihuly’s work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Major exhibitions include Chihuly Over Venice (1995-96), Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999), Garden Cycle (2001– present), and displays at the de Young Museum in San Francisco (2008), the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (2011) and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (2012). Chihuly Garden and Glass opened at Seattle Center in 2012.

October 2012 – April 28, 2013

Philip Haas: The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons are four monumental, earthy and exuberant sculptures that will delight your eyes. The sculptures are inspired by Italian Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s painting series The Four Seasons. Arcimboldo’s imaginative portraits were whimsical, puzzle-like paintings composed of fruits, vegetables, flowers and related objects.

October 2012 - May 27, 2013

Whispers of a New World:
Sculptures by Carolina Escobar

Whispers of a New World: Sculptures by Carolina Escobar, was an exciting contemporary art exhibit on display in Ottosen Gallery and throughout the Garden’s Desert Discovery Loop Trail, featured the work of local artist Carolina Escobar. Using vibrant colors and shapes inspired by nature, the artist works with steel, copper screen and resined cloth to create organic sculptures. Ottosen Gallery works included Escobar’s two-dimensional pieces resembling the flowing forms of her sculptures and the rich colors found in nature.

January 16 - April 1, 2012

Design for a Living World

During the winter of 2012 an exhibition about design and sustainability was on display in Dorrance Hall. The exhibit titled, Design for a Living World, connected the natural world around the globe with people, plants, and places. Developed by The Nature Conservancy the exhibit told the story about the life-cycle of materials and the importance of considering conservation when designing new products, buildings, or landscapes. The exhibit included works by ten prominent designers that used sustainable materials from around the world to recreate everyday objects, video interviews with the designers, sketches, models, and large-scale photography by acclaimed photojournalist Ami Vitale.

September 12, 2011 - January 22, 2012

David Rogers' Big Bugs

David Rogers’ Big Bugs was on display throughout the Garden and provided a look at insect predators, pollinators and beneficial critters. The 11 enormous, whimsical bugs created quite a buzz! Sculptor David Rogers has carefully created these creatures from fallen or found wood, cut saplings, twigs, raw branches, twine, bark and other natural materials. The sculptures weighed from 300 to 1,200 pounds and ranged from seven feet to 25 feet long.

September 29, 2011 - November 13, 2011

Monet's Giverny and Other Edens
photographs by Richard Nilsen

nilsen exhibit-250.jpgArt critic Richard Nilsen has spent 40 years photographing gardens around the world. His exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden featured images from Impressionist painter Claude Monet's famous garden in Giverny, 40 miles outside Paris, along with images taken at a dozen other gardens, private and public, from around the U.S. and Europe.

Critique the Critic

During the exhibit, guests were invited to critique some of Nilsne's work on the Garden's "Critique the Critic" blog. The "art" of being an art critic has been around since the 18th century and guests were encouraged to use such principals as description, analysis, interpretation when commenting on the blog.

February 25, 2011 - May 27, 2011

A Desert Illuminated
John Schaefer Photography Exhibit

A Desert Illuminated photography exhibit featured 30 photographs of cactus flowers of the Sonoran Desert. The stunning macro photographs are wrapped in the visual and contextual embrace of a Renaissance-era illuminated manuscript that connects the human passion for science and art. By placing a sheet of black construction paper behind the cactus, he is able to isolate the subject, intensifying the composition of the richly hued and delicate flower.

Schaefer, president emeritus of University of Arizona, is a conservationist, avid bird watcher and founder of the Nature Conservancy in Arizona. He is a talented photography who, with Ansel Adams, established the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.

October 1, 2010 to January 2, 2011

Gwynn Popovac: BioMythic Masks

1.1 Falling Water Popovac.jpgArtist Gwynn Popovac's biomythic masks were on display in Ottosen Gallery in Dorrance Hall from October 1 through January 2. Each mask blended the textures, shapes and hues of natural habitats such as deserts, wetland and tide pools with human features. These intricate three dimensional masks incorporated a variety of man-made and found objects such as wire, plaster, beads, fabric and stones.


November 21, 2009 - May 30, 2010

Allan Houser: Tradition to Abstraction

The Desert Botanical Garden and Heard Museum presented a major exhibition of the works of Apache master sculptor Allan Houser. For the first time ever, visitors were able to see the breadth of Houser’s work at two of the Valley’s most prestigious destinations. The Desert Botanical Garden featured 18 sculptures in bronze that reflect the modernist influences from which Houser drew inspiration for his work, as well as a collection of his two-dimensional drawings for children’s books. The Heard Museum exhibition featured paintings, sketches and small-scale sculptures from their collection. Born on June 30, 1914, Allan Capron Haozous become known to the world as  Allan Houser. Houser was a descendant from the Fort Sill survivors of the Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache tribe. He was immersed in the history and community of Indian people, is considered one of the best-known and celebrated American artists of the 20th century and is often referred to as the “father” of American Indian sculpture. Houser, who died in 1994, became famous for his bold statements in stone and bronze. He was also an illustrator and painter and never failed to create innovative new works of art.

October 15, 2009 - January 3, 2010


legacy-botanical-main.jpgLegacy featured some of the finest works from artists given the Diane Bouchier Founder's Award for Excellence in Botanical Art from the American Society of Botanical Artists. Never before had the works of these artists been exhibited together. The 27 paintings and illustrations displayed highlighted both the scientific foundation and artistic expression of this unique art form.


May 5, 2006 - August 3, 2009

Illustrating Nature: The Tradition Continues

illustrating-nature-main.jpgIllustrating Nature: The Tradition Continues examined the history of botanical illustration, as well as the techniques and processes used to create these works of art. Artwork from the students and instructors of the Desert Botanical Garden Botanical Art and Illustration Program were included in the exhibition.


September 5, 2008 - October 19, 2008

The Spirit of the Saguaro

spirit-saguaro-main.jpgThe Desert Botanical Garden presented an exhibition of photographs from Arizona photographer, Holly Metz. The large black and white images, taken in the desert, celebrated the beauty and uniqueness of this ancient desert plant.


February 1, 2007 - August 20, 2008

Patrick Dougherty: Childhood Dreams

patrick-dougherty-main.jpgWith the help of Garden volunteers, world-renowned artist Patrick Dougherty spent the month of February 2007 creating a one-of-a-kind sculpture. Hundreds of willow branches were transformed into a magnificent large-scale sculpture at Desert Botanical Garden. The finished work of art, Childhood Dreams was located on the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail.

November 24, 2007 - May 30, 2008

Mayme Kratz – Artist in Residence: The Breathing Room

breathing-room-main-2.jpgThe Breathing Room, a living art installation by Arizona artist Mayme Kratz, was located on the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail. This installation of desert plants and flowers grew and blossomed through early spring, inviting visitors to connect with nature and experience the wonder and beauty of the Desert Botanical Garden. Once Mayme’s garden turned to seed, the collected elements of nature became a part of her unique art.


April 18 - May 30, 2008

Mayme Kratz – Artist in Residence

walking-on-dryland-main-2.jpg The Desert Botanical Garden presented an exhibition of the artwork of Mayme Kratz. Created from organic materials, her work celebrates nature and the cycles of change. Mayme’s creations of organic material suspended in resin create dynamic sculptural and two-dimensional works of art.

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