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A Return to the Desert, Celebrating the First 25 Years, A retrospective Celebrating Dyana Hesson

January 29 - May 22, 2016


The Desert Botanical Garden is presenting "Return to the Desert, Celebrating the First 25 Years," a retrospective celebrating Dyana Hesson, one of the Southwest's most beloved botanical artists. The exhibition will showcase the evolution of her original works as they return to the desert for this special occasion from January 29 to May 22, 2016. (right: Dyana Hesson, Maroon Swoon, Oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches. Image courtesy of Bonner David Galleries)

"I've explored many subjects: tropical blooms, garden flowers, roses and landscapes, but I always return to the desert," said Hesson. "I can't resist the twists and turns of an agave, the translucence of opuntia (prickly pear) blooms, the plump and colorful hues of succulents. Revisiting desert plants in my work is like coming home from a vacation. For twenty-five years the Desert Botanical Garden has inspired my work."

Hesson is also producing a new collection of desert-inspired paintings that will be showcased with her retrospective at the Garden as well as Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale. In conjunction with the exhibit, Hesson will release her first art book, Radiance: the Paintings of Dyana Hesson which features over 170 of the artist's luminous botanical and landscape paintings. This volume is the most comprehensive representation of her work to date and includes stories and poems giving special insight to her passions and processes. Designed, printed and bound in Arizona, Hesson's book will be made available at the Desert Botanical Garden Shop, Bonner David Galleries, and on her website: www.dyanahesson.com.

"I am so pleased with the exquisite work artist Dyana Hesson is currently producing for her show opening at the Desert Botanical Garden," said Christi Bonner Manuelito, of Bonner David Galleries, who has represented Hesson since 2002. "I feel this is among her best work and it's remarkable how this exhibit has fueled her creative expression. Her passion and love for her compositions found during many visits to the Garden is visually expressed and perfectly executed in each painting. I am so proud to be a part of Hesson's incredible journey."


Artist's statement

Dyana Hesson, Thesis For January 2016 Retrospective
Return to the Desert
My husband Randy and I moved to Mesa, Arizona in 1989. I was a California girl, and had been skeptical about life in the desert; after all it must be dry and parched, right? Randy took me on a statewide camping trip to prove me wrong. He was right, Arizona was beautiful. I enrolled at ASU and searched for a new major to match my abilities. Randy suggested I try art. He was right again. Finally, I was good at something, and painting was fun. I was figuring out who I really was, and although Arizona was not my home state, it felt like I was home.
While enrolled at ASU, I began to explore botanical subjects in my art. Because I had always loved the outdoors and nature it seemed like a great fit. I remember visiting the Botanical Gardens with my camera and marveling at the variety of plants I could paint. I was on a roll. I graduated with honors. And then . . . we were transferred . . . to Michigan. We were both devastated at the thought of leaving Arizona, but the move was a great opportunity for my husband. We called Lands' End, had two winter coats sent overnight, and packed our bags. We landed in Michigan on a cold, gray day in February. I missed the desert, the wide open spaces of the Southwest and I longed to return. But I dug in and made the best of the situation. I volunteered at an art association. I hunted down native wildflowers while the mosquitoes hunted me. I participated in my first art fair. And then, in 1996, we got the call . . . a transfer back . . . we could return to the desert.
We returned to monsoon sunsets, blooming prickly pears, the Grand Canyon, and bright sunshine.
Since we've been back, I've explored many subjects: tropical blooms, garden flowers, roses and landscapes. But I always return to the desert. I can't resist the twists and turns of an agave, the translucence of opuntia (prickly pear) blooms, the plump and colorful hues of succulents. Revisiting desert plants in my work is like coming home from a vacation. For twenty-five years the collection at the Desert Botanical Gardens has inspired my work. I strap on my camera and take a stroll to visit my friends. I know where they all live now, my favorite agave, the giant blooming yucca, the pale yellow blooming opuntia. And on my visits, I notice you. Maybe you are new here? Maybe you are just learning how to pronounce "saguaro." Maybe you are marveling at the diversity that exists in the desert? Maybe this is the first time you've seen a roadrunner?
Do you think you'll be compelled to return? I bet you will.
I always am.
June 2014

(above: "Chin Up Bee Happy" Saguaro Blooms & Sky, DBG, oil on canvas, 70 x 70 inches. Image courtesy of Bonner David Galleries)


(above: "Party of Five, Poppies, DBG," oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of Bonner David Galleries)


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