Upcoming Exhibitions

The Exotic Sublime | land and sky

Opens Thursday, May 18, 2023
Artist Reception Thursday, May 18
5:30 – 8:00 pm
Main Gallery

The Exotic Sublime: land and sky will examine the romantic Sonoran landscape as viewed from near and far – magnified or mourned from arm’s length, from distant vistas, from out of this world. We are witness – in macrocosm or microcosm – to the effects of time in slow dissolution or methodical accretion; cautionary tales to join what this place used to be with what this place will become. The voice in between, the creative and artistic resolve, is a current toward the odd and wondrous grandeur of The Exotic Sublime.

Concentrating on the Sonoran Desert’s land and sky, this exhibition is the first in the series, The Exotic Sublime. Future installments in the series will shape a contemporary Sonoran florilegium and two Sonoran bestiaries, rounding out the 2023/24 exhibition calendar.

Addressing our role in this Anthropocene epoch and the human-caused impact upon our immediate environment, this series of exhibitions will shed new light on climate change, habitat loss/degradation/fragmentation, threatened and endangered species, invasive exotic species, migratory paths, water diversion/scarcity, etc. 

Artists from the region are encouraged to submit 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional works in any media for consideration – video and creative writing submissions are welcome.

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Image: clockwise from upper left (details): Erinn Kennedy, Keith Marroquin, Janet Windsor, and Karen Wright

Queen of the Night

Friday, June 2, 2023 – Sunday, July 30, 2023
Entry Gallery

She is called the Queen of the Night, La Reina de La Noche, or the Night Blooming Cereus and every summer, for one night only, whatever she may be called, Peniocereus greggii becomes the Belle of the Ball, the superstar of the Sonoran Desert. The Cinderella-like cactus looks like a dead stick for most of the year but transforms herself in the early summer months, blooming alongside many plants in the area and then closes forever by morning’s light.

Tohono Chul possesses 400 Peniocereus greggii, the largest private collection in the world. Many of these curious cacti were found growing in the park with others being donated over the years, some being saved from the bulldozer’s blade. The number of flowers blooming in one night has been as many as 174 on 69 plants. As beautiful and enchanting as the blooms of the Night Blooming Cereus are, what happens in the dry desert dirt and in the nighttime sky is as fascinating as the wondrous white blooms. Maintaining and sustaining the plant below ground is a turnip-like tuberous root and up in the sky, the tireless pollination of the Hawk Moth. The whole cycle is a marvelous story of courage, endurance, perseverance.

30 years ago, in June of 1992, Tohono Chul held its inaugural Bloom Night. Docent, Betty Carras provided a vivid recollection of the night: “Watching carefully, we could actually see the opening spurts of the blossoms. Slowly, but inexorably, the bud became a flower. Ghostly white, it gradually opened its funnel-shaped blossom—becoming more aromatic as it increased in size. By the time its slender white petals were almost fully opened and the flower nearly five inches across, it was extremely fragrant. The velvet-like embrace of warm night air, the magic of a sweet-scented evening and the distant chorus of singing coyotes made it truly a night to remember.”  It was a casual affair outside the shop with a little over 20 people bearing witness. One plant produced six flowers while another plant produced one. From that evening a Tucson tradition was born. Since that first string of phone calls by a dedicated few, word has spread and now with each Bloom Night, over a thousand visitors experience something absolutely mysterious and incredibly magical.

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Annie Antone | Queen of the Night | yucca, devil’s claw, bear grass

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