UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens Exhibit: Celebrating Ethnobotany Features Orinda Artists

Grapes – Vitis vinifera, a 19” x 20” watercolor by Orinda artist Gina Barretta, perfectly captures the “Plants + People” theme of this year’s Plants Illustrated exhibition.

    Orindans Catherine Watters and co-chair Laura Sawczuk invite you to attend the 10th Annual Plants Illustrated Exhibit: Celebrating Ethnobotany showcasing botanical art by members of the Northern California Society of Botanical Artists (NCalSBA). Held in the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden’s (Garden) lovely Julia Morgan Hall, it runs Jan. 18 to Feb. 6. Admission to the exhibit is free with Garden admission. Watters promises, “The Exhibition will be stimulating, both visually and educationally.”
    Deepa Natarajan, program and event coordinator at the Garden suggested the theme, “Plants + People” to the members of NCalSBA. “Deepa gave us a list of the plants growing in the Garden that worked with our theme. Some artists chose those plants while others obtained plants elsewhere. Each illustration will have a description of how the plant is used for food, fiber, medicine, shelter, cultural or religious purposes,” explains Watters. To learn more about NCalSBA, visit www.ncalsba.org.
    If you are a lover of botanical art, you are in for a few surprises. Several of the 48 paintings in the exhibit are much larger than usual because the chosen subjects are large. For example, Sally Petru of Oakland is showing Papyrus – Cyperus papyrus, a 15” x 37” watercolor. Papyrus often grows up to 16 feet in tropical rain forests, its natural habitat. The exacting process of botanical paintings belies the grace and beauty of works such as Orindan Gina Barretta’s Grapes – Vitis vinifera, a 19” x 20” watercolor. Both paintings concern venerable botanicals whose cultivation and uses reach far back into history – papyrus back to ancient Egypt and the common grape vine (Vitis vinifera) to the Neolithic period.
    The Julia Morgan Hall (Hall), part of the Julia Morgan Building (circa 1911) was moved to the site in 2014. It is a Berkeley Landmark, listed on the National Historical Registry, and also recently received a 2015 “Preservation Award” from the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Because the Hall overlooks the broad vista of lush greenery from the Garden’s native plant collection, exhibiting botanical art inside the Hall seems apt.
    The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden is located at 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley. Go to www.botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu for more information. The Garden is closed Mon., Jan. 21 and Tues., Feb. 5.

Sally Petru’s Papyrus – Cyperus papyrus,” a 15” x 37” watercolor, features the reed-like plant used for paper-making by ancient civilizations.

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