Artistry presents A Delicate Society: Minnesota’s Wild Plants & Vertebrates in Watercolor & Pencil.

Long ago I was lucky enough to learn all that I could of the biota in two regions—in the timber and fields of Indiana and in Ontario’s Algoma District north and east of Lake Superior. As a child I was awed with art renderings of wild nature up close, especially Albrecht Durer’s famous hare and dandelion prints, and later on the work of noted North American bird and wildlife artists from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.  I often felt possessed with the urge to realistically paint my region’s natural history through my adulthood. That kind of painting has become my vocation, a kind of compulsion. Along the way I enjoy adding thematic elements of the weird or symbols of our industrialized takeover of natural landscapes, at the same time as nature photography extends its reach as an art form capable of capturing exact anatomies, proportions and freaks of light, color, cloud form, blending and layering them into fantasy visions. A question sometimes surfaces: what can hand-rendered art do better or more engagingly than fine-art photography, or how much, if at all, does it matter?

I’ve long enjoyed wild plant and animal identification with the help of handbooks and, nowadays, websites. Through climate change and the pressure of human growth that has seemed to know no limits, familiar bioregions will almost certainly change more and more, intermixing, dying out or losing a sad degree of their individual character. Over whatever variety of bioregions I’m able to visit long enough to complete an art work I hope to draw and paint, rather than merely photograph a vision of habitat, and a life form that made a brave stand in whatever degree of seclusion from foot and vehicle traffic. Especially on foot, a person out there can savor feeling like both a discoverer and re-discoverer. And might careful, reverently-rendered artwork even maybe play a role in safeguarding some places and creatures from extinction? I yearn for that possibility, for the sake of all artists and documentarians who felt as if they lost their hearts to something non-human that evolved in nature.


Born in 1960 in Indianapolis Tanya underwent a long, charmed childhood and youth, spent roaming old fields and woods in Indiana as well as the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior and northward in Ontario. With a B.A. in English from Western University in London, Ontario, Tanya’s formal training in art is from the Indianapolis Art League and the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. The remainder of her preparation as a watercolor artist has come of trial, error and reworking while painting out-of-doors in the Lake Superior region, in rural and suburban greater Minnesota, where by now she has lived most of her life.  Her subject matter includes native wild flora, birds and other North American animal life depicted in characteristic forest leafage, prairie grass, cliff, shoreline or skies, as she observed it, her style ranging from hyper-real to slightly surreal.


Located in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s Education and Visitor Center in Bloomington’s South Loop District, the Confluence Gallery features emerging and established Minnesota-based artists who excel at creating artwork with a focus on nature. Exhibition themes include ecology, conservation, the beauty of the Minnesota River Valley, and environmental justice. The Confluence Gallery is in partnership with The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The gallery exists to be a conduit between the natural world and the local community; to inspire and educate, and to connect refuge visitors to the natural world.


Artistry is a producer of theater, curator of exhibitions and related public programming, and facilitator of arts-based community development. It serves more than 82,000 people per year and is committed to artistic excellence, fostering creative expression and arts access. Artistry is welcoming to diverse audiences and art-makers in its theater, visual arts, and arts education programs. 


Thursday-Sunday: 10:00am-4:00pm; Closed on Federal Holidays 

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