We’ve just returned from a delightful and fun-filled weekend in Tuscon, AZ, where we flew to attend the opening weekend festivities for the Sea of Cortez Exhibition at the beautiful Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum! “Brrrrr” . . . is what I said as we walked from the parking lot into the airport very early last Friday morning, since it was merely 33 degrees! When we landed in Tuscon, AZ several hours later, we walked out of the airport and I said “Ahhhh” . . . as it was delightfully warm! Thus began my much anticipated process of personally thawing out! After checking into our hotel, Wes and I enjoyed a nice casual walk, in the warm sunshine, to enjoy a late lunch at a nearby restaurant. Returning back to the hotel sometime later, I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon while sitting in a gazebo reading a book, and continued my process of thawing out while enjoying the warm weather. That evening, with most of the participating artists having arrived, we all enjoyed a delicious and fun dinner at Finnegan’s Restaurant next to the hotel. Early Saturday morning, we all boarded the bus and made our way to the beginning of the Catalina Highway, which runs up the Santa Catalina Mountains from the east side of Tucson to the top of Mt. Lemmon. The journey starts out with gorgeous views of the Sonora Desert, filled with numerous Saguaros, all looking like people standing with their arms up! Palo Verde, Ocotillo, Prickly Pear Cactus, as well as numerous other plant species indigenous to the Sonora Desert area all joined in, thus filling the beautiful desert landscape. The first stop along our journey was at the Babad Do’ag view, which offers a stunning view of the Rincon Mountains, the Tuscon Basin and the desert cacti-studded Tuscan Valley. After being given an intensely condensed history lesson on the area by our naturalist leader, Rick Brusca , we enjoyed taking several photos before loading the bus to continue our journey to the top.
Onward and upward we went, and with each turn in the steep, winding road, the bus was filled with “Oooo’s and Ahhh’s” as we were treated to yet another stunning view of the valley below and surrounding area. With Mt. Lemmon being the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains, it offered us the ability to experience great plant diversity from Saguaros to Ponderosa Pines. Along the first part of the drive, amazing rock formations, HooDoos, and outcroppings are the real show stoppers, with many not looking real or even possible, with large rocks precariously perched and perfectly balanced on top of other rocks! The next stop was at Windy Point, which offered stunning views of the Tuscan Basin, as well as several mountain ranges, while sitting at 6,400 feet of elevation. Everyone enjoyed another great informative talk from Rick, before spending some time taking photos of the amazing views. We also enjoyed watching the little Cliff Chipmunks which inhabit the area.
Once more loading the bus, we continued our journey upward, and began leaving the more open areas and views behind, as it began filling in with more Ponderosa Pines and different species of fir trees, as well as other trees, thus appearing more as a dense forest. Patches of snow began to appear and became more numerous as we climbed ever higher. Before too long we had reached the top, where the bus was parked and we were able to spend an hour or so, hiking and taking photos. The views were absolutely gorgeous and we enjoyed getting to see quite a bit of snow left in areas as well! Of course immediately, I had to walk through the snow and make a snowball, which was promptly thrown at Wes! Numerous birds in a variety of species inhabit the area, including Spotted Towhees, Yellow-eyed Juncos, Acorn Woodpeckers, as well as many others. There were also signs of turkeys and Puma or Bobcat, being in the form of several discoveries of scat in different areas. The cool breeze was invigorating as we walked around in the sunshine, making our way to the top, where a lovely grouping of rock outcroppings were situated right on the edge, offering a stunning view of the valley below. We hung out there for a bit before exploring some more. All too quickly time had passed and it was time to begin our journey back down this amazing mountain. A couple of hours later we had reached the bottom and were on our way back to the hotel in Tuscon. What a treat and delightful experience the journey was, proving to be even better than one could’ve ever imagined!
Quickly we changed clothes and joined our friends as we drove to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, where the show premiered. It’s a beautiful museum located in a stunning setting amongst the Sonora Desert. So we hit the paths running, knowing our time there was very limited, and wanting to see as much as possible. We only got to see about a third of the museum, but enjoyed it very much! I must admit my favorite spots are the hummingbird and bird aviaries. I enjoyed spending quite a bit of time in the hummingbird aviary, while watching the amazing flying jewels, and getting several great photos for future miniature paintings. The enclosure was filled with numerous nests with the petite attentive mothers tenderly sitting atop them. I was also thrilled to able to watch a mother feed a recently fledged nestling . . . what a treat that was! Soon the time came to go see the exhibition and join in the opening festivities. We were amazed upon entering the Ironwood Gallery, as it was filled to the max with excited attendees, all enjoying the paintings and sculptures being displayed. It was quite sometime before Wes and I actually got around to see everything, as we were greeted by so may people, complimenting and inquiring about “How in the world we got so much detail in those tiny paintings?” Needless to say it was all quite thrilling for the artists whose work was being enjoyed and appreciated. The curator of the exhibition, Dr. David Wagner, introduced all of the participating artists, and a presentation of thanks was made to our naturalist leader, Rick. All too quickly it ended and it was time to leave, to enjoy the next adventure of the day, a dinner party for the artists. Next week, I’ll share photos and stories from our wonderful dinner party that evening and our visit to the gorgeous Agua Caliente Park Sunday morning.
Currently On Our Easels: Wes finished his last still life painting for the upcoming “American Still Lifes” show, “A Captured Moment in Time” . I’m working on a miniature from our “Admiring the Masterpieces” series, featuring me looking at a still life painting, which I personally call “a vegetarians nightmare”, as it features dead game, but it is a beautiful painting done in the golden Dutch era.
Come See Our Paintings This Week:
Annual Spanish Moss Miniature Art Show at the Mobile Arts Council Gallery, in Mobile, AL
Until March 29th
Annual Miniatures in Mariposa Show at the Sierra Artist Gallery, in Mariposa, CA
Until March 24th
March, 16 – June 2, 2013:
To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html
Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!
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Until next time ~ Rachelle