CORVALLIS, Ore. - Pacific Northwest botanists, wildflower enthusiasts, gardeners, artists and wilderness lovers take note. The Oregon State University Press has just published a new book, "Ever Blooming: The Art of Bonnie Hall," that offers a vivid glimpse into Oregon's natural world, through the eyes of a gifted and inspired artist.
Bonnie Hall was a biological illustrator in OSU's Department of Entomology for three decades. During her career, she produced intensely detailed pen and ink renditions of insects to illustrate articles by OSU researchers in scientific publications.
In 1992, after retiring, Hall turned with wonder and determination to the realm of Oregon's native plants and to the medium of silkscreen printing. Drawing inspiration from the masters of old botanical prints she became motivated by a desire to draw attention to what she called "the overlooked, undervalued or threatened wild things native to our Pacific Northwest landscape."
In the last 12 years of her life, while battling cancer, Hall produced a series of stunningly beautiful and scientifically accurate color silk screen prints that reveal the personality and life stages of Oregon's native wildflowers, ferns and rare butterflies. She also wrote richly detailed text about the distribution, life history, indigenous use, taxonomic discoveries and conservation issues for each of the subjects she illustrated.
Hall showed her work at fine-arts fairs around the region, reveling in the conversations and connections that resulted. She was an ardent conservationist, donating portions of her proceeds to many conservation organizations.
After her death, her husband Jim Hall, an OSU professor emeritus of fisheries, gathered and edited her work and wrote her biographic sketch to include in the preface for "Ever Blooming." He includes her artist's statement and excerpts from her lifetime of correspondence about natural history and its illustration. Robert Michael Pyle, naturalist and Pacific Northwest author, wrote the foreword.
Wrote Pyle: "As much as any artist I've known, Bonnie navigated with grace that high ridge, where, as Nabokov wrote, 'the mountainside of scientific knowledge meets the opposite slope of artistic imagination."
In her artist's statement, Hall described how her passion evolved.
"A native Oregonian, I grew up charmed by the wildflowers of the region. I retired with a will to share the privileged close scrutiny of nature that I had enjoyed. In embracing screenprinting, I have discovered the means. I love the construction of screenprinting, building an image one layer of color at a time. And I love the communication of it, creating multiple originals to entice a broader audience."
"Ever Blooming: The Art of Bonnie Hall" is available for $25 per copy in bookstores or by calling 1-800-426-3797.
A reception to mark the publication of the book will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Pegasus Gallery, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis. Editor Jim Hall will sign copies of the book at the Portland Audubon Society's Wild Arts Festival on Saturday, Nov. 26, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Double Tree Lloyd Center in Portland.