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[Editor’s note: Botanical artists have a long tradition of displaying their art where it can make a difference to the those who view it. Recent examples include art exhibitions in botanical gardens, of native plants around the world, and of vanishing species. Botanical artists also have been creative in finding other venues to display botanical art and reach a wider audience. This is hopefully the first in a series of posts about such efforts in a new category entitled “Botanical Art Out and About.” Do you have a story to share? If so, please email our blog editor.]

by Jan Clouse, posted by Deb Shaw

"Cat & Bird," Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak). Graphite and colored pencil on paper by Jan Clouse, © 2018.

“Cat & Bird,” Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak). Graphite and colored pencil on paper by Jan Clouse, © 2018. Website at: janclousebotanicals.com

I was a volunteer in the Salud Carbajal for Congress campaign of 2016 to represent the California 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County and the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County. Salud repeatedly urged my husband and me to come visit him in Washington D.C. if he got elected. I decided that, although I might not be visiting the Congressman in Washington, I could loan him a couple of my paintings. One I selected was a painting of a Coast Live Oak as an icon of the district he represents. It hung in his Santa Barbara district office from 2016 to 2018, greeting constituents just inside the door of his local district office.

Coincidentally, when Salud won re-election this past November, the painting sold. So I changed out that original painting, replacing it with another version of the ubiquitous Coast Live Oak. This one is of a dead branch I had picked up from in front of my veterinarian’s office. The vet clinic is called the “Cat and Bird Clinic” because my vet specializes in those two species, and in the office it is not uncommon to see one of the resident cats roaming the lobby with one of the chickens who also lives there.

You can’t mistake the story of a cat’s claw and the falling feathers in the image of the branch. It seemed only fitting to call the finished painting “Cat & Bird.”

The soft vulnerability of the feathers against the sharp twigs is too often the story of sudden violence between cats and birds. But really, this time it’s just a Quercus agrifolia.

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