Nature's art, inside and out

Robyn Beth Priestley artwork

By Kate Havelin, Community Outreach

Nature’s palette has bloomed. I look outside and spy spring’s gallery of colors everywhere. The greens on display in my yard alone exhibit a world of brightness—blades of vivid green grass, chartreuse shards of unfurling hostas,  brave bleeding hearts and lilies emerging after a long winter of hiding.

The hues are hard to miss but a fresh art exhibit has sparked my senses so I notice more of nature’s textures and shapes. St. Paul artist Robyn Beth Priestley’s “A is for Afton, Z is for Zippel Bay” casts Minnesota state parks in a sunny series of mixed media painted block prints.

The show, on display at the AZ Gallery in St. Paul’s Lowertown through June 1st features some expected pretty scenes, like Itasca’s Headwaters and lady slippers. Priestley also includes many less expected sides of nature’s beauty – fungus and lichen, otters and beavers, turkey vultures, bees and bats. The artworks depicts the Hill Annex open pit mine, Mystery Cave, and a few city parks like the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.

I studied the artful linoleum block prints of nature’s subtle delights—pocket mice hugging tiny stalks of prairie grass like koala on eucalyptus; dwarf trout lilies, hepatica, and bloodroot; speckled and striped trees, their bark enhanced with mushrooms.  I left the exhibit, biking home along the river, with senses refreshed and ready to appreciate nature’s show. I heard the river lapping over the paved Samuel Morgan Trail; the flooding a sign of spring as common as robins. I breathed in the mustiness of dirt warming, absorbing the weight of snow and spring rains and felt crunch of twigs and gravel, winter’s detritus speckling the paths.

In Crosby Park, I gazed at artful scenes just off trail, an outstretched branch, showing off its delicate bracelet of new buds,sunbursts of marsh marigolds brightening last year’s faded foliage. I saw trees as speckled and striped, wrapped in moss velvet.It’s a world of nature’s art, on display at galleries as well as parks and yards everywhere.  Spring’s early colors won’t stay here long. Don’t miss the shows!  Robyn Beth Priestley's A to Z Exploration of Minnesota State Parks