Mission Statement

The Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists is an open and diverse group of artists, collectors and admirers who share a love for the practice and perpetuation of botanical art and illustration with a fond focus on plants in the Rocky Mountain Region.
We encourage and participate in educational outreach, juried and non-juried exhibits, lectures, workshops and regular chapter meetings. The RMSBA is proud to be the very first chapter affiliation of the international organization, the American Society of Botanical Artists.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

April 27, 2014 Member Meeting - Rocky Mountain Land Library

Eight members of the RMSBA met at Schlessman Family Branch Library for our monthly meeting. Members discussed the great work Becky Hall and Vanessa Martin are doing designing and fabricating our ASBA Conference gift, which is a brush holder made of native beetle-kill pine. The damage from the beetle creates a blue cast in a lot of the wood grain, making an interesting and beautiful pattern in the cut wood.

In addition, it’s an ecological use of the wood, which comes from standing dead trees which generally are not used for construction. Becky presented four different finish possibilities, and after discussion, a clear poly-acrylic coating was selected as being beautiful and easy to keep with good water resistance properties.

The focus of the meeting was a presentation by Kathy Imel and Jeff Lee, representatives of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, a unique organization dedicated to engaging people in the history and care of the land in our area. Kathy presented Jeff to the members.

The Amazing Growth of An Amazing Idea
Jeff Lee and Ann Martin share a marriage and their love for books, which has taken them on a number of journeys, perhaps the most successful is the creation of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. The concept began to grow after a trip to the London Book Fair, with a particularly important side adventure.

They went to Gladstone's Library, known until 2010 as St. Deiniol's Library, a residential library in Hawarden, Wales, founded by Victorian statesman and politician William Gladstone. In 1895, at the age of 85, Gladstone gave £40,000 (equivalent to £3.91 million today) and much of his own library to start this library’s holdings. He hauled most of the 32,000 books a quarter of a mile to their new home, using his own wheelbarrow! Now, over 250,000 books comprise the library holdings, and folks looking for research, respite and inspiration in their work come from around the world and stay in the 26-bed establishment.

Lee and Martin saw the wealth such a library offers and on their return home, they began collecting books about the Rocky Mountain region, with a commitment to encouraging greater awareness of the land and the communities who live on it. Over the ensuing years, their collection grew to over 30,000 books, old and new, documenting the way land in Colorado was worked, tended, sold, swapped, and cared for.

Denver Post image 2/2/2012 – Jeff with collected books in his basement, prior to moving the collection new digs
RMLL has received praise and recognition from around the nation, starting with local support (Channel 9), and spreading all the way to the east and west coasts (Bloomsbury Review, LA Times, and Huff Post to name a few).  

Topic range is astounding, with books on modern beekeeping to traditional pruning methods, keeping goats in the city to The Poetry of Birds, a lovely tome on Fodder Plants and Pasture Plants, beautifully illustrated, cowboy poetry and works on art, craft, farming, mountain men, native peoples and more. So much is learned about the people who inhabited our lands, how they lived, what they cared about, how they interacted with each other, and how they husbanded the resources and treasures they found. Take a look at these:

Beekeeping - in the city!
Proper pruning beautifully illustrated
The City of Denver allows 2 goats per household
Inspiration drawn from the land's - and skies' - inhabitants
Serious information for the plainsman

Beautiful illustrations allow accurate identification
Cowboy's were often close-lipped, but remembered and embellished their lives with poetry. You can catch cowboy poetry in Denver and other cities at festivals and readings
RMLL, in partnership with the Tattered Cover, established an author series focused on the land and communities of the American West. Since 2001, they have hosted over 400 authors, including luminaries Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben, Lester Brown, Stewart Udall, Peter Mathesen and John & Teresa Kerry. 
In addition, a thriving outreach program, the Kids & Educators Library in south metro Denver, has been established in partnership with Denver Water and the Thorne Ecological Institute. 
After several years of searching for the perfect permanent home, Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park will soon house the RMLL collection. Founded in 1861 and recently designated a National Heritage Area,the ranch is a beautiful spot, the perfect home for a library dedicated to the conservation and appreciation of the land.

Beth Wood, a friend of Lee and Martin, photographed restoration work on the Buffalo Peaks Ranch in 2009, and some of the images are seen below. You can view more of her work HERE.
The vista that nurtures the permanent home for the RMLL, in South Park, CO, a few miles outside of Fairplay, CO, including waterway, main ranch house, a bunk house, and majestic mountains rising in the distance.
Once the rehabilitation of buildings is complete, the main house, attendant bunk houses, a huge barn, and massive concrete cattle stalls will all be re-purposed.
The main ranch house on renovation day, with outside paint and repair in progress

A volunteer works hard on a warm day, as two smart pups find a spot of shade

The outbuildings of Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park near Route 9, as a storm walks across the valley. Clouds moving in fast demonstrate the capabilities for high plains to generate capricious weather, looking back through the bunk house, with large cattle sheds barely visible mid-right of the picture
 The main library will be in the upper level of the wood-beam barn, residency settings located in the bunk houses and artist studios and work areas created in the cattle stalls.  General meeting and education areas are planned for the main house. There will be room to honor, preserve, research and expand the many activities that encompass the land.
Their commitment to our land, and their support of the arts that portray it are a perfect match for botanical artists. Click HERE to reach their informative website, and find your niche to participate in this terrific organization.

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