Cacti blossoms and Sonoran Scenes
in Tom Stanley photo Exhibit

Arizona cacti offer such a rich study in contrasts…armored with bristling spines and glochids most of the year, then by spring they invite everyone from honeybees to artists with extravagant, colorful flowers. Our signature echinocereus, the Boyce Thompson Hedgehog cactus, blooms a rich magenta in April and was among the species celebrated via beautiful photography shown in our gallery during April, 2005, by Phoenix resident Thomas Stanley.
A Minnesota transplant who has called Scottsdale home for the past two decades, Stanley notes, "My family moved to California in the '40s. We lived in the Bay Area, and I graduated from Armstrong's College in Berkeley with a BA in finance then went on to a career in insurance and business. During school I often visited art galleries between classes, always fascinated by the different art displays. I bought my first painting as a college sophomore; for a while that painting and a bed were all I had in my apartment!"
"I yearned to be an artist, but I came from a background of limited means and had been schooled for a practical career. I never could muster up the mettle to actively pursue art, so I stayed an insurance man -- just about as far away from art as you can go!
"But I loved the southwest…the history, the blue sky, and the striking blossoms that would explode on the primitive landscape after a few days of rain showers. Possibly my biggest incentive was "Arizona Highways" magazine…I promised myself one day I would take a picture of the quality I admired from Arizona Highways." Stanley began to dedicate more time to his photography around 1990, getting his best prints framed. The owner of the Scottsdale frame shop liked what he saw, inviting Stanley to sell framed prints, greeting cards and postcards in the family gift store. Soon orders began to arrive from gift shops at various Arizona State Parks, including the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
"Boyce Thompson has always been a special place to me; just 60 minutes from Phoenix, and such a serene place, one you can enjoy alone or with special friends. I visit often, and this will be my first formal gallery show - so I am delighted that it is hosted by the Arboretum!" Spend some time in our gallery this month, take a moment to ponder the many paths that bring people to an awareness of their artistic potential. Stanley offers these tips from his experience for getting better photos:
"Think about your picture: the light and the composition until it becomes real in your mind. Once your photograph has been developed, figure out why it didn't come out like you had imagined. Start simple, the less automated the better. I believe technical products that are so widely available now can actually detract from photography as art. Take many shots of same image and apply crop mats; that can be like taking more pictures. And when you're starting out avoid manipulating pictures. Frame simple, and matte simple. Also: find a good camera shop and don't be afraid to discuss your pictures." To correspond with the artist about his work or inquire about Tom's exhibit here, email or else write to PO Box 60204, Phoenix, AZ, 85082-0204. The Arboretum is an Arizona State Park and daily admission must be paid to enter the visitor center and gallery, even just to view our monthly gallery exhibit. Arboretum non-members pay daily admission of $7.50 for adults and $3 for ages 5-12. Our May gallery show will feature photography by Globe resident Jeanette Bronson; if you'd care to review other recent gallery exhibits check out these shows from...