Bugs, Birds and Botanicals at the Arts Center

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
Marlborough - posted Mon., Apr. 11, 2011
The work of botanical artist Kelly Leahy Radding inspired the Bugs, Birds and Botanicals exhibit at the Marlborough Arts Center. Photos by Kevin Hotary.
The work of botanical artist Kelly Leahy Radding inspired the Bugs, Birds and Botanicals exhibit at the Marlborough Arts Center. Photos by Kevin Hotary.

When Cindy DeLorenzo, corresponding secretary of the Marlborough Arts Center, saw a demonstration by botanical artist Kelly Leahy Radding, she thought that the center could build an exhibit around natural history artwork. And just as a tiny acorn gives rise to a mighty oak tree, out of this seed of an idea grew the current exhibit, Bugs, Birds and Botanicals, an ambitious combination of exhibits, activities, classes and events that runs through May 15 at the Arts Center.

“She was the inspiration for this exhibit,” said DeLorenzo of Radding, who together with Christine Leddy, Gail Easton and Ellen Gaube – all Connecticut members of the American Society of Botanical Artists – is displaying her realistic depictions of nature at the center.

Botanical art combines science with aesthetics, seeking to depict the structure and natural history of plants at a level that is scientifically meaningful to botanists, but in a manner that is visually appealing to all. The rules for botanical art are strict, but there is ample room for variations and style differences within these rules, said Radding, who is not trained in the life sciences, but grew up with a deep appreciation of nature.

“For me, it comes more from the creative side than the scientific side,” she said.

In addition to botanical works, there are a number of other works by the artists depicting birds and insects at the exhibit.

“We all like to delve into different aspects of nature,” said Radding.

In addition to the exhibit, the Center’s calendar is filled with special events around the Bugs, Birds and Botanicals theme.

“We really went all out for this one. We have a lot of stuff planned for every weekend,” said Diane Sandler.

Last Sunday, Kasha Breau from the Connecticut Audubon Society presented a birds of prey demonstration at the Arts Center.  Breau has been working with animals for about 25 years. For the Arts Center program she brought a screech owl, a broad-wing hawk and a red tail hawk, all birds that are native to Connecticut.

“They all have injuries and can’t be released,” said Breau. The injuries  are often related to eyesight and flying ability and make it difficult to find mates, escape predators and find food.  All of these conditions make the birds “more susceptible to being part of the food chain,” said Breau.  Since they would be unlikely to survive in the wild, the Audubon Society cares for the birds and uses them in programs to help people gain a stronger appreciation of their beauty and their value to the ecosystem.

   Future events in the Bugs, Birds and Botanicals exhibit include a wool spinning demonstration by Radding and Christina Leahy, with a visit from some goats and llamas on April 23, and an artist’s reception and demonstration on May 1.  The Arts Center also has a full slate of classes and events for children over spring vacation. For further information and the full schedule of programs at the Marlborough Arts Center, go to www.marlborougharts.org.

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