Tumamoc Hill at Tohono Chul Park: Art, Culture and Science


Tumamoc Sketchers featured in the book, “This Piece of Earth”, are showing in the entry gallery at Tohono Chul this winter. NOW. The book is comprised of Poetry and Images made on Tumamoc. (It is available for purchase at Antigone’s Book Store on 4th Ave and the Tohono Chul Gift shop in Tucson, AZ or online thru amazon of course).

5 diverse visual artists are showing: Chip Hedgecock, Kathleen Koopman, Meredith Milstead, Paul Mirocha and Barbara Terkainian. Photography, graphic design, installation and found sculpture, painting and drawing, and illustration. It is a cohesive show nonetheless. Tumamoc as Muse. Many thanks to Curator, James Schaub.



Following is a peek into my process and inspiration for the image below called “Tumamoc Texture: Botany”. It is impossible to read in this tiny picture and you must see it right up close.

Please come see the show!


I’ve been slightly obsessed with the passage of time and square and grid formats.


I change media depending on how I want to talk about what I’m observing. In this case it’s black and white, pen and ink, of textures generated from botany in various stages of dying (or living) on Tumamoc Hill. The above grid is one of a series of “Tumamoc Textures”. It is freehand, made mostly on-site.

Flanking my artwork is Kathleen Koopman’s circular impressions on paper.

DSC_0673pens of choice for this project

This is how “Tumamoc Textures” started:

Aside from my predilection to look down a lot, I began to notice that there was ALOT of texture on the Tumamoc ground…way more than “normal”. I like to think that the more visually complex something appears, the more excited the connection between the eye-brain-mind, thus stimulating and strengthening neural networks…which has to be good for you, right? I am not a neurologist but looking at a plant has got to be better for your biology than looking at, say, the sidewalk.  Plus, this is nature-made, not man-made, and nature is profoundly more complex than man. Complex=good. ( but then man is nature made too which makes him infinitely more complex than what he can make aside from a sub-atomic particlesplittersupercollider which is pretty complex-but, what do I know? Slippery slope. Best to stick to drawing textures…many men, over time.)

While walking I noticed metal frames placed strategically on the Hill, for future signage, and I liked the way the sign-holes framed the ground. I felt compelled to fill the empty rectangle.

DSC_0665 DSC_0678


I thought it would be a good idea to let the sign-holes determine which textures to capture from Tumamoc….sort of like a collaboration with something incapable of collaboration




… but it wasn’t (a good idea) and I  ventured away from the corralled textures to hunt down wilder specimens.

DSC_0620 DSC_0606 DSC_0605

Many ink drawings later I was able to choose a collection which represented the most iconic textures of Tumamoc, for me, and perhaps others too, maybe, hopefully, I wouldn’t doubt it, you decide.



Central square as it hangs in the gallery. Notice the little words and numbers? They show date of drawing and sequence and sometimes the time of day, or the name of the texture or species of plant, if I like the way it sounds or whatever comes to mind while drawing.


After getting my feet wet with botany, and discovering many more categories of visually different types of texture on T-Hill, I felt directed to make a few more grids which I’ll show later. For now, I’d like to talk more about this show, so the next few posts will focus on other work from the Hill.

Stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “Tumamoc Hill at Tohono Chul Park: Art, Culture and Science

  1. I do too! I’m driving to Tucson next week… any chance you’d like me to bring that wonderful triptych of three light scenarios on Tumamoc? It hangs above my fireplace but it’s a natural for the Tohono Chul Exhibit and I’d be very happy to lend it. ???

  2. I loved the sketches! And I promise I’ll see the show at Tohono Chul this winter. I am taking a class on Tuesdays so won’t be able to join you at Tumamoc Hill. I want to do tho’ after this class!


  3. Meredith! How is it that I did not know of this until now? Wasn’t there an opening? Anyhow, it looks absolutely fantastic…how long for the Tohono Chul exhibit? Thanks so much for posting this…I am one of your fans. K-t

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