The Sea of Cortez Exhibition Opening . . . Part I

opeing of the sea of cortez show at the arizona-sonora desert museum
Wes and I in front of our miniatures featured in the Sea of Cortez exhibition

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.

photo on Mt. Lemmon
The amazing Saguaros at the base of Mt. Lemmon, with the Tuscan Valley behind
wildflower in the sonra desert
A gorgeous little wildflower at the Babad Do’ag Overlook
photo of a tree lizard on Mt. Lemmon
An adorable little Tree Lizard at the same overlook

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.

photo of windy point off mt. lemmon
The little person is me taking a photo of the amazing rock formation from the point
photo of windy point off mt. lemmon
The stunning rock formation seen from the point
photo of windy point off mt. lemmon
Wes takes photos off the overlook, with the group in the background
photo of windy point off mt. lemmon
Me on a rock ledge off Windy Point
photo of windy point off mt. lemmon
Wow . . . what a stunning view I though this was from the overlook!

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!

photo on Mt. Lemmon
Me on top of Mt. Lemmon!
photo on Mt. Lemmon
The beautiful snow at the top of the mountain
photo on Mt. Lemmon
At the top with part of the group, enjoying the view

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.

opeing of the sea of cortez show at the arizona-sonora desert museum
A section of the exhibition with our miniatures grouped at the left
opeing of the sea of cortez show at the arizona-sonora desert museum
Part of the crowds watching during the presentation.
photo atthe arizona-sonora desert museum
A section of the stunning grounds at the museum

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.

miniature still life painting
“A Captured Moment In Time” by Wes
3½ x 2½ inches
miniature painting in progress
My miniature painting in progress

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

The Sea of Cortez  Produced by David J. Wagner, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

March, 16 – June 2, 2013:

To view all our upcoming exhibits:


 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


Back From An Amazing Week of Exploration in Mexico!

One of the check points at the border crossing.

WOW . . .  I hardly know where to start! What an amazing week we just had in Mexico! We left Townsend very early Saturday a week ago, to catch an early flight in Knoxville. We landed in Tucson, AZ after lunch and spent the afternoon taking a walk in the warm sun, catching up with artist friends as they arrived, and just plain relaxing. Spirits were high and the air was filled with the excitement and anticipation of the adventures that lay ahead during the week spent in San Carlos, Mexico. The field trip to San Carlos was organized by David J. Wagner, L.L.C. to enable participating artists to produce a body of artwork for display in an upcoming museum exhibition entitled, “The Sea of Cortez”.  Thirty-two of us, mostly artists along with a couple of naturalists and scientists loaded our bus early Sunday morning and the journey began as our very nice bus driver, Juan, took us on our way. Crossing the border was quite interesting, but we made it through and were quite a ways down in Mexico when we enjoyed our first lunch together. Ordering was quite the process with the menu being in Spanish, but we managed just fine and enjoyed delicious enchiladas and a “Coca-Cola light” (diet coke) in a glass bottle.  With full tummies, we loaded the bus and arrived in San Carlos several hours later that afternoon.

Our first view of the lovely Condominios Bahia Delfin.

The condominios Bahia Delfin were beautiful as they were surrounded by spectacular vistas in every direction. On one side was a lovely desert area, while the other side faced the gorgeous turquoise waters of the ocean. It was also within walking distance of the beautiful Estero Soldado (Estuary). We all quickly unloaded and settled in our new temporary homes, and then Wes and I headed for the beach. The view was breathtaking as it stretched along with the beautiful rugged mountains jutting up behind and the many shorebirds calling and flying about. My feet and toes were thrilled to be walking in the sand once again! After unwinding a bit and taking in some of the gorgeous scenery, we all walked along the beach over to the restaurant, Pilar’s, next door. The food was delicious and the conversation was great as we imagined what we were going to see and experience during the week to follow.

Me with our condos in the back.
Me on our patio overlooking the ocean.

Monday started early, with us loading the bus and heading to a local restaurant called Rosas Cantina. There Wes and I had some of the most delicious fresh orange juice that we’ve ever tasted! I learned later that one family provides the fresh squeezed orange juice for the entire area of San Carlos and Guaymos. They had great coffee too! Leaving there we went on a short sightseeing excursion showcasing Mirador, Nacapule Canyon and a great lookout point. Then we were taken to a Mexican grocery store. This in and of itself was an adventure. Wow . . . I have never been so utterly confused in a store in all of my life! With most everything obviously being in Spanish, and totally arranged in a different way than U.S. stores, it made it seem like a treasure hunt to find the few things we needed for our breakfasts and lunches that week. We nearly had a heart attack when we figured out that the sunscreen was $17 when converted from pesos!! Luckily, we found out quickly that our friend Dave had bought an extra bottle earlier in Tucson that was way cheaper!

Rosas Cantina, home of the amazing fresh squeezed orange juice!
Our bus parked on the way up to the beautiful Nacapule Canyon.
The first gorgeous scenic overlook we went to Monday morning.

We returned to the condos in time to enjoy a very yummy lunch consisting of a sandwich made with sliced Mantego cheese and lots of freshly sliced avocados . . . Mmmmmmm! These were some of the best avocados we’ve had and were incredibly large! As soon as we finished our lunch, we left for our first real adventure, which consisted of walking through the Estero with our naturalist leader, Rick Brusca. At first we walked through a sandy area and learned of the 4 types of Mangroves growing in the Estero, the Red, White, Black and the one that FL doesn’t have, the Sweet. We also tasted pieces of   “Salt Wart” , which were crunchy and quite salty tasting.

Wes enjoying his avocado sandwich while Susan paints, on our patio. (Susan Fischer of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum shared the condo with us)
The first of many crossings in the Estero.
Carel shows Don and I something interesting.

It was amazing and very cold as we began crossing through what quickly became thigh deep water! I instantly learned that it wasn’t warm like Florida’s water . . . brrrrr! Everywhere you looked was something new and incredible, lots of different crab species, birds, fish and other interesting critters, one of which was the Sea Hare. It has ear-like things sticking up as it slowly crawls along the sandy bottom. Another thing of great interest was the baby Bonefish, which were long, flat and clear, except for their two little tiny black eyes. Some of our fellow explores were brave enough to face the freezing water and enjoyed a bit of snorkeling. After tromping around for a few hours, Wes and I walked back along the beach leading to the condo.

One of the many baby Bonefish.
Wes exploring, and taking in, parts of the beautiful Estero.
I get a great and up close look at a flock of Dunlins.
One of the many incredible looking Sea Hares wandering about.

It was soon time to load the bus and head for dinner, which was at a restaurant called Piccollos. The food was delicious and the company was even better. Our wonderful bus driver, Juan, sat with us and we shared funny stories and did a whole lot of laughing, until several of us had tears running down our cheeks! Juan was wonderfully patient as he began what would become a weeklong task for him to teach me a few Spanish words. We later returned to the condo and enjoyed talking with Susan, until we were all quite sleepy. So we headed to bed to rest up for another day filled adventures, most of which I will share with you next time.

Waiting for dinner at Piccollos, on their lovely patio.

Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂

Upcoming Solo Museum Exhibitions of Our Miniature Paintings

"Grandpa Jackson" by Rachelle, measures 2 3/4 inches.
"Grandpa Jackson" by Rachelle, measures 2 3/4 inches.

        My latest miniature portrait painting titled, “Grandpa Jackson”, was done from a photo I took of my very dear and much loved Grandpa many years ago, while we were taking a short break from fishing. He was one of my best buddies and taught me many of life’s greatest lessons. He also taught me how to do wood working among other things like building stud walls and how to frame windows. For awhile I was even quite proud to be able to drive a nail in two hammer hits, and contrary to what Wes says they were long nails! I was always as proud as a peach when grandpa would tell someone, “This is my number one granddaughter”! As one can well imagine it was a great honor and a joy for me to paint my late grandpa 🙂

"The California Coast" by Wes, measures 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches".
"The California Coast" by Wes, measures 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches".

        Wes’ miniature painting “The California Coast”, was painted from a photo taken during a wonderful trip we took a year ago last spring, to southern California. The location is in the beautiful La Jolla Cove and was simply splendid with all of the gorgeous wildflowers! The many species of birds were quite happy to call this lovely spot home.

Jeanie, George and I on top of Huckleberry Bald.
Jeanie, George and I on top of Huckleberry Bald.

        The last day of Wes’ parents visit, we took a drive along the beautiful Cherohala Skyway and enjoyed a couple of hikes. My favorite was one in which you’re walking along a tree lined road for quite a distance, and then suddenly the woods opens up to a grassy field. When you first reach it, all you see is a sea of golden-colored grasses swaying to and fro in the breeze where it meets a seamlessly endless blue sky! As you continue up the small rise, your eyes are treated to a natural feast as the endless sea of grass gives way to a spectacular view of the many layers of mountain ranges in the distance. At this point I felt as if I were on top of the world with almost a 360 degree view all around. The weather was also gorgeous with plenty of sunshine and blue skies, topped with a splendid breeze, which made it all the better!!

 Jeanie and I on the beautiful Huckleberry Bald.
Jeanie and I on the beautiful Huckleberry Bald.

        As you can see in the above photo, it was a bit on the cool side the day of our hike. Although I had on a long sleeved shirt, a sweater, insulated vest and gloves, I still did not succumb to long pants . . . . it must be a Florida thing, as I’m not quite ready to give up summer quite yet 🙂

Heritage Center Concert in Townsend, Tennessee.
Heritage Center Concert in Townsend, Tennessee.

        We enjoyed another wonderful concert at our local Heritage center during Wes’ parents visit as well. It was a great and  chilly evening as we listened to “rockabilly” music played by three very talented musicians!

Our book, "The World of Nature in Miniature".

        We’re really happy to announce that we now have two more solo museum exhibitions scheduled that will be featuring our miniature paintings! These will be different from our upcoming solo show at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery since these paintings will feature only our wildlife subjects. Wes and I are really looking forward to spending a week in Louisiana to attend the shows in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.
The World of Nature in Miniature: Paintings by Wes and Rachelle Siegrist
Produced by David J. Wagner, L.L.C.
David J. Wagner, Ph.D., Curator/Tour Director

The West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, LA, Sunday, May 16 through Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tour Venues:
Sept. 1 – Nov. 15, 2010: Open/Pending
December 11, 2010 – March 13, 2011: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

This exhibition will feature 50 of the Siegrists’ miniature paintings of wildlife drawn from their book The World of Nature in Miniature: Paintings by Wes and Rachelle Siegrist.

Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂