The Indigenous Botanicals of Arizona, Southwest Society of Botanical Artists

An Exhibit at the Tempe Galleries at Tempe Public Library, Tempe, AZ 
December 9, 2011 -  April 18, 2012

To commemorate Arizona’s centennial, Southwest Society of Botanical Artists (SWSBA) member Joyce Peters organized a juried exhibit at Tempe Public Library. SWSBA held a well-attended reception on January 21. 

How did this exhibit happen? Networking! “I met Scott Burge, owner of the Electric Brew Pub in Tempe, up at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. He’s a big fan of botanical art. We chatted about how we could get it more public exposure, explains Peters. “Scott displayed our art in his pub, which is close to Arizona State University and frequented by scientists, whom we thought would appreciate botanical art. He arranged for me to have lunch there with Michelle Dock, Gallery Coordinator for Tempe Center for the Arts. She was impressed by our work.” 

February 14, 2012 is Arizona’s 100th birthday. The plan for an SWSBA exhibit to celebrate it was hatched. Because of exhibit regulations at the Tempe Center for the Arts, the show was restricted to Arizona residents. “It was only fitting that to celebrate the centennial; we focus on Arizona’s native plants. So many people don’t use native plants for landscaping and I’m always thinking of ways I can persuade them otherwise. I’m a strong supporter of native plants and pollinators,” says Peters. “Artists were asked to write statements about the plants they illustrated to enhance the educational purpose of the exhibit.” 

Judges James Astholz, Elliott Everson, Judy Kula, and Wendy Hodgson awarded Best in Show to Margaret Pope for her work in colored pencil, Peniocereus greggii, Queen of the Night, ‘More Than a Beautiful Flower’.

“I love the diversity of plants throughout all of Arizona but am particularly fond of those in the Sonoran Desert region where the diversity of plant forms must be one of the greatest in the world,” says Pope, who teaches at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute. “I’m very excited about having an exhibit showcasing our indigenous plants and am honored to be among the artists chosen, and especially to receive this award. I hope visitors to the show will enjoy the amazing, unique, and beautiful flora of our area.” 

Elaine Hultgren received the award for Best in Dry Medium for her pen and ink depiction of Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax, Sentry Milk-vetch.

“Sentry milk-vetch is the only federally-listed endangered plant among over 1,750 plant species in the Grand Canyon,” explains Hultgren, an Emmy award-winning animation artist who teaches botanical art at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden. “Sentry milkvetch is also endemic to the Grand Canyon, which means that the Canyon is the only place in the world that the plant lives,” adds Hultgren.

Best in Wet Medium was awarded to Gillian Rice for her watercolor portrayal of Echinocereus coccineus or Claret Cup Cactus, which occurs from the foothills to the summits of Arizona mountains and is pollinated by several hummingbird species - broad-billed, black-chinned, blue-throated, and magnificent hummingbirds. 

The work in the exhibit can be viewed online at the website of the Sonoran Desert Florilegium Program at 


  • Joyce Peters
  • © Gillian Rice 2010, watercolor portrayal of Echinocereus coccineus or Claret Cup Cactus
  • © Margaret Pope 2011, colored pencil, Peniocereus greggii, Queen of the Night, ‘More Than a Beautiful Flower’
  • © Elaine Hultgren 2011, pen and ink depiction of Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax, Sentry Milk-vetch