Barbara Atkinson Totems And
Topiary Exhibit February, 2010

                 Ceramic artist Barbara Atkinson had a solo exhibition of her work in the Boyce Thompson Arboretum visitor center gallery during February, 2010. Also worth noting is that at least one of her unique creations has been on permanent installation here since 2007. Atkinson is skilled at topiary, and created a whimsical gecko for the Children's Garden -- a creation of chicken wire and rosemary which looks verdantly lifelike, but which also needs strategic pruning for the fragrant herb to retain its reptilian shape.

          "My love of the Arboretum, of gardening and of all things outdoors inspires my current work," said the Apache Junction artist, who is also a longtime volunteer at the Arboretum -- and is Director of the Superstition Mountain Museum on the Apache Trail in AJ, near Goldfield Ghost Town.

          "I studied at ASU in the metals program for two years and was involved with the Mesa Art Center as a student or teacher for two decades," she adds. "I am a multimedia artist and have been creating art of some kind most of my life."
Subjects of her Arboretum exhibit will be "Totems and Topiary:" hand-crafted totems made of clay, kiln fired, glazed and fired once again -- and also topiary crafted from welded steel and formed metal.          "The totems are created and hand built out of clay. Some shapes are extruded, but most pieces are completely hand built. Surface decoration is applied similar to applying appliqué on material. The surface decoration is added while the hand built piece is still wet and pliable. The pieces are fired, painted or glazed, fired a second and some times a third time."

          "Bases for the totems are welded steel and designed to sit in a garden. If the pieces are going to be placed on a patio or somewhere other than on the dirt, protection for the patio is desirable, as the rust from the steel base may stain the or floor."

          "The topiary frames are shaped by hand and designed to be whimsical and fun. The material used is a coated poultry type wire -- "chicken wire," in brief. The best plant to use in Arizona is Rosemary. I have tried just about everything, and rosemary stands up to our extreme heat and will tolerate cold. It can take up to a year for the frame to completely fill in, then frequent trimming is necessary for the best results."

          Correspond with the artist by email to, or call 480 981-8366, or write to Barbara Atkinson, P.O. Box 1864, Apache Junction, AZ, 85117.

     Boyce Thompson Arboretum is at highway 60 milepost #223 near the historic copper mining town of Superior, a drive of about 45 minutes due East of Mesa. Winter month visitors are admitted from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and the Arboretum closes at 5:00 p.m. ( summer month hours are daily from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) New exhibits begin each month and may be seen daily during business hours; the Arboretum is an Arizona State Park and daily admission must be paid to enter the Visitor Center where our gallery is found. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $3 for ages 5-12. Annual memberships at the Arboretum begin at $45, and include a year's access, guest passes for your friends and family, along with many other benefits. A membership may be purchased in the gift shop on the day of your visit. Review other recent gallery shows from...

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Marilyn Barton
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Deborah A. Lee June, 2009

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Timm Chapman January, 2009

Paul Kinslow December, 2008

Maggie Leef November 2008

Sharon Sieben October 2008

Nicole Royse September 2008

Judy Bottler Photography May 2008

Bob Estrin Photography April 2008
Mary Isham Watercolors March 2008
Susan Strom and Cathy Franklin Lightning Photography February, 2008
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Carolyn Gray & Connie Thomas December, 2007
Jean Sullivan November, 2007 Sue Cullumber October, 2007
Adriane Grimaldi September, 2007
Pima College print-making students July-August, 2007
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Fred Charlton May, 2007
Paul Mudersbach March-April, 2007
Linda Kaiser February, 2007
Edith Kreueger-Nye December, 2006 - January, 2007
Cindy Carrillo October-November, 2006
Bob Rice September, 2006
Bud Heiss July-August, 2006
Mesa Arts League June-July, 2006
Sandy Tracey April-May, 2006
CJ Rider March, 2006
Jessica Green February, 2006
Steve Davidson January, 2006
Don & Carole Schupp December, 2005
Carolyn Gray November, 2005
Martha Burgess October, 2005
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Lightning Lady Susan Strom July/August, 2005
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Tom Stanley April, 2005
Kathy McClure February-March, 2005
Pam Smyth January, 2005
Tina Faust December, 2004