Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Scarlet Globemallow

A few years ago, the husband got instructions to go on a business trip to Boise, ID. The kids were pretty young then, but old enough to stay with their grandparents for a few days, so I decided to tag along, too. At the time I had never been northwest of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and I figured Boise would be a safe place for me to putter around while Mr. Lewark was helping our customer.

Back then I was very particular about everything I ate. Looking back on it, I am surprised I was willing to travel. Anyway, we were staying at one of those extended-stay hotels, so I had cooking facilities available to me... which meant that I needed to head out the first day to find some food that would pass muster. To my delight, I found that Boise had a fantastic Food Co-Op, and so I hopped into the rental car and sojourned across town to find it. And, what do you know? Right in front of the Food Co-Op was the American Red Cross Bloodmobile!

When I was a young child my parents donated blood regularly. They were both avid volunteers in many respects, and still are -- always looking for a way to "give back." A person in our family had recently needed 7 units of blood after giving birth to her first child, so seeing the Bloodmobile sitting there in front of the Co-Op felt like a sign. My kids were too young for me to do regular volunteer work at the time, but I could slip away long enough to donate some blood, for sure.

So, it was in Boise, ID that I became a blood donor.

After donating blood, I felt amazingly full of energy, but also quite hungry, so I got quite a few delicious treats (including a duck and two bottles of red wine, because that's how I was at the time).

Downtown Boise was an adventure as well. The Boise Art Museum had a great exhibit of John James Audubon's work. Having been trained in science and art and also having lived in New Orleans, I had my first experience of seduction by art, compliments of Mr. Audubon. I would have come out of the museum store with the tome of his works, but decided against it (a few years later I would purchase this book as a birthday present for a young friend who is teaching herself art and who also loves birds).

Audubon by John Syme, 1826
Next, I saw that a nearby Dunkley Music store was having a sale on sheet music. If you've known me for a while, you know that during childhood I learned to play the piano, flute, clarinet and trumpet (sort of). While I did take classes in the art department in college, I also made sure to take private flute lessons at Tulane University and studied many of the contest pieces from the French Conservatory. But I was tired of those pieces after playing them for years, and eager to get my hands on some new tunes. The sale did not disappoint! I walked out with a stack much larger than the thickness of Audubon's collection, which included Celtic and Jazz music. Playing the Celtic music was a favorite stress-buster for me for the few years until I picked up my paint brushes again.

You'd think that would be enough for one trip! But no... the husband unit satisfied the clients early on in the trip so we had a day or two (I can't remember exactly) to explore together.

At the time we were running regularly, and I had a desire to have my gait analyzed and purchase a properly-fitted pair of running shoes. Downtown Boise sported a Lululemon store, as well as a high-end athletic shoe store, so I got my wish... a new pair of Brooks neutral-balance running shoes, which remained my favorite shoes until I replaced them with the newer model just two months ago!

The recommendation on the internet was to visit the Old Idaho State Penitentiary and Idaho Botanical Garden, so that's what we did on our last day of the trip. The tour of the penitentiary was fascinating; I highly recommend it if you find yourself in Boise. It's definitely a piece of Old West history. On the grounds of the penitentiary, interestingly juxtaposed, is a rose garden which is next to death row and where six executions by hanging took place. After an interesting and morbid experience like that, it only made sense to decompress with a walk through the neighboring Botanical Garden.

I took quite a few pictures in the Garden, but one of my favorite was of a Scarlet Globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinia) in the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden.

Recently, I translated this image into this large (15"x22") watercolor painting.

Scarlet Globemallow, 15"x22" Watercolor by Amy Lewark

The original is currently available for sale as part of the Western Spirit Art Show and Sale at the Old West Museum in Cheyenne, WY, and prints are available in many sizes either through me or through Fine Art America.

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