Kay Cummings Cactus Blossom
Paintings Exhibited February 2011

            Drab colors and gray skies of winter mean that by February our collective thoughts are turning to Springtime and flowers. Among the first of all echinocereus (hedgehog) cacti to bloom is our own unique variety endemic to this elevation and botanically named in honor of Boyce Thompson Arboretum's founder, Col. William Boyce Thompson. February’s exhibit in the Visitor Center art gallery showcases cactus blossom oil paintings by Mesa artist Kay Cummings: two dozen pieces ranging from the common Engelmann's Prickly Pear, those yellow blossoms pictured below and at left, to Cane Cholla, Arizona Pincushion, Organ Pipe and the exotically named ‘Queen of the Night.’
            "I guess I've been an artist at heart since I was a child," says Gwendolyn 'Kay' Cummings. "I was always drawing something -- comic strip characters, movie stars -- always something. In the little country school where I grew up, the teacher assigned me to draw scenes on the blackboard to give a seasonal touch to the classroom. In high school I was appointed art director of the yearbook. I began to pursue art as a serious avocation while attending Kent State University where I majored in elementary education. As part of my curriculum at Kent State I took classes in oils, and once I completed my studies there I enrolled at Akron University to gain experience in watercolors."
           "I became a volunteer artist for Children's Hospital in Akron, Ohio, decorating windows at Christmastime and Easter with all kinds of enchanting characters to bring joy to the children. The hospital also commissioned me to create numerous permanent murals to add cheer to the halls and examining rooms. The opportunity to paint large expanses of interior wall space helped me learn to wield a brush with confidence. The experience also added a new dimension to my perspective of art as I realized that it could bring happiness to others besides me."

            "I became a published illustrator in 1968 with the publication of Reflections on the French River, a book published by Partridge Press in Hudson, Ohio. Arizona became my home in 1969. I moved here to be near my children, who had all been drawn by the magic of the West. I loved the pastoral scenes and lush forests of Ohio and Pennsylvania, where I was born, but the vast expanse of the West holds too much grandeur, mystery, and color for me to ever move back home."
            "Not long after I was established in the Mesa area, I was hired by Central Arizona College as an instructor in watercolors and acrylics. Although I loved working in those media, I developed a renewed love for oils during that time as I discovered the magic of this medium when I began painting desert flowers. Once cactus flowers were in my blood I couldn't stop. My trips to Boyce Thompson Arboretum and dozens of pictures of the awesome blooms of the cactus family have spurred me on with urgency, always fearing I might exhaust the supply of spectacular cactus blossoms before my oil colors dry out -- but there seems to be too many cacti for me to ever run out of subject matter, and my oils just keep on a-mixin'."
            "Before oils, I spent many years in watercolors and acrylics, usually choosing subject matter related to rustic farm scenes and desert landscapes. I am also fascinated by the mystique of the ancient Pueblo dwellings. I hope to make visits this new year to some of those we haven't seen, with camera and sketch pad in hand. My husband was a WWII hero, and before his death in 2001 I began compiling his remarkable memoirs for publication. Kent State University Press published the book in 2005, and I was able also to provide illustrations for it; I have also written and illustrated a series of children's books."
More of the artist's work can be seen athttp://www.gkaycummings.com
          All paintings displayed will be available for purchase. In addition to framed original oil-on-canvas paintings, prints and note cards will also be available. Framed paintings range in price from $50 to $1,200.      Correspond with the artist by email to: gkcummings@cox.net or call Cummings at 480-694-5818 or write to 4456 East Princess Drive, Mesa, AZ, 85205.
     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. February 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...

Paul Kinslow January, 2011

Mesa Arts League September, 2010

Rick Cameron April , 2010

Nan Lawrence March, 2010

Barbara Atkinson
February, 2010

Nancy Matus
January, 2010

Barbara Cox
December, 2009

Margaret Whittaker
November, 2009

Artists of the Superstitions
October, 2009

Marilyn Barton
September, 2009

Gila Community College August, 2009

Deborah A. Lee June, 2009

Margie Porter May, 2009

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
Arizona State Parks Plein Air Paintings January, 2008
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
Mesa Arts League June-July, 2007
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
Boeing Photographers September, 2005
Lightning Lady Susan Strom July/August, 2005
Mesa Arts League June/July, 2005
Jeanette Bronson May, 2005
Tom Stanley April, 2005
Kathy McClure February-March, 2005
Pam Smyth January, 2005
Tina Faust December, 2004