Botanical exhibit explores Penn's woods


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"Native Pennsylvania, A Wildflower Walk" is both exhibition and invitation by the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation that arrives just as the weather turns springlike and thoughts turn to wandering woodland paths.

Thirty-six watercolors by Richard Crist (1909-1985), selected from 324 in the institute's collection, picture species ranging from endangered, rare and threatened -- like trailing arbutus -- to pesky, invasive garlic mustard. Complementing those are herbarium sheets -- pressed plant material on archival paper -- from the botany department at Carnegie Museum of Natural History of such plants as skunk cabbage and dodder. Visitors might note one illustration by Andrey Avinoff, a former Natural History museum director, who also created fantastical paintings.

Mr. Crist attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and the Art Institute of Chicago. In the late 1930s, having moved to Somerset County, he began painting the regional wildflowers as a break from his serious abstract oils, an avocation he continued after moving with his family to Woodstock, N.Y. Mr. Crist donated his paintings to the institute before his death.

In conjunction with the exhibition, free public lectures expanding upon the flora and their environmental interrelationships will be given at 2 p.m. Sundays through June:

Sunday -- "Why Do Plants Bloom When They Do? Spring Ephemerals and Other Seasonal Flowering Patterns" by Steve Grund, botanist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program; research associate with the botany department at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and chair of the Pennsylvania Rare Plant Forum, Pennsylvania Biological Survey.

March 25 -- "Pressing and Mounting Specimens for a Personal Herbarium" by Jeanne Poremski, owner of Jeanne Poremski Gardens in Uniontown, Ohio, a landscape firm that uses native plants in its designs. Ms. Poremski has taught classes for the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' Sustainable Horticulture and Landscape and Garden Design certificate programs.

April 15 -- Illustrated talk "Wildflowers of Pennsylvania" by Mary Joy Haywood, who co-authored a book of the same title, published by the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania, which she served as president for 20 years. She is a botanist, plant pathologist and professor emeritus of the biology department at Carlow College.

April 22 (Earth Day) -- "Wildflowers in the Home Garden" by John Totten, partner in the garden management and development firm Gardens! LLC; adjunct faculty at Chatham University's landscape architecture graduate program and Penn State University's sustainable landscape program; teaches sustainable horticulture and landscape and garden design certificate programs through Phipps.

May 20 -- Gallery tour of "Native Pennsylvania, A Wildflower Walk" with the Hunt Institute curator.

June 24 -- "Rare Plants of Pennsylvania" by Bonnie Isaac, exhibition co-curator; collections manager, botany department, Carnegie Museum of Natural History; and president of the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania.

June 24-25 -- Annual institute open house.

"Native Pennsylvania" continues through June 29 on the fifth floor of the Hunt Library, Carnegie Mellon University. Admission is free. Hours: 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1-4 p.m. Sunday, closed April 6--8 and May 6, 27--28). Information: 412-268-2434 or http://huntbot.andrew.cmu.edu.

International curator

Tina Kukielski, associate curator of the 2013 Carnegie International, will lead a "Speed Walk" tour through the Carnegie Museum of Art collection galleries, stopping at overlooked treasures and personal favorites, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday for this month's Culture Club. Free admission; cash bar with $5 Great Lakes beer. (412-622-3131 or www.cmoa,org.)

Collector talk

Collector Diane DeMell Jacobsen will speak on "Global Influence on American Design" at 7 p.m. Friday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 221 N. Main St., Greensburg. Forty-three chairs from her collection comprise the Westmoreland exhibition "The Art of Seating." Her collection includes paintings, sculpture and applied arts, from the early 19th century to the present, that illustrate the formation of a national character and the unique history of American art through most of its important movements.

Ms. Jacobsen, a Washington University alumna, is a business executive, international affairs scholar, member of an Advisory Group of the Council on Foreign Relations, Saint Louis Art Museum trustee, and recipient of the 2003 Allison Atlas Award in recognition of her efforts on behalf of the National Marrow Donor Program. Free. The exhibition continues through April 8. Information: 724-837-1500 or www.wmuseumaa.org.

David Ludwig show

A free public reception for "David A. Ludwig: Structures," paintings, study sets and drawings by the late artist, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Greensburg Art Center, 230 Todd School Road, Greensburg. The exhibition continues through April 20, and artist, educator and critic Kathleen Dlugos will speak about his work at 1 p.m. March 25. Information: 724-837-6791 or www.greensburgartclub.org.


Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: mthomas@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1925.


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