A playful exhibit of surrealism and botanical illustrations

Denver Botanic Gardens to feature Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind


Oftentimes, art can be a connector between science and nature.

“Art can talk to people in a lot of ways that data cannot,” said Lisa Eldred, director of exhibitions and head curator of art at the Denver Botanic Gardens. “Art helps tell the stories of our relationship with nature.”

The science part comes in with the living plants and botanical illustrations.

The Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting a feature exhibition called Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind, which will run April 10-Aug. 22. It is included with general admission to the gardens.

Part of the botanic gardens’ mission is to give people new ways to connect with plants, said Jen Tobias, who serves the Denver Botanic Gardens as the assistant director of exhibitions of art and collections and as assistant curator of art.

“This show is so playful. Some of the works have humorous qualities, but they’re also beautiful and charming,” Tobias said. “It showcases some traditional botanical illustrations with surrealist spins.”

The Dalí exhibit boasts nearly 40 works on loan from The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. It features two suites — FlorDalí and Surrealist Flowers, which are two “rarely seen series of fanciful color lithographs of flowers and fruits,” states a news release.

Surrealism has a “purposefully irrational quality to explore dreams and such things,” said Tobias. This exhibit offers a “different way of thinking about the natural world.”

The Dalí exhibit coincides with a few other exhibits that are upcoming this spring and summer — also located inside the gardens’ recently-opened Freyer-Newman Center galleries — that speak to the intersections of art and science. The other exhibits are:

• Radiant Season: Paintings by Kevin Sloan, who is a “Denver-based painter whose work focuses on the relationship between the natural world and human-made objects and environments,” states the gardens’ website. Radiant Season runs March 13 through July 11.

• Golden Opportunity: Botanical Illustration, which features illustrations of yellow plants created by students and faculty of Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art & Illustration. This exhibit will be on display May 29 through Aug. 15.

• Of Sky and Ground: Yoshitomo Saito, whose “cast bronze works capture and celebrate the elegant lines and subtle details of nature,” states the gardens’ website. Of Sky and Ground runs from July 24 through Nov. 28.

These are in addition to the 24 acres of the gardens where people can explore the “gorgeousness” of living plants, Tobias said.

A visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens truly can provide a multidisciplinary and multisensory experience, Eldred added.

With the heightened stress people are experiencing from the pandemic, Eldred hopes that the gardens can serve as a respite and that people can leave the art exhibits — including Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind — feeling restored and rejuvenated.

“And with a notion of curiosity that serves as a catalyst for continued exploration,” Eldred said.


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