The Sonoran Desert Florilegium

artists of the florilegium

John Gerdes (1932—2014)

John Gerdes was a self-taught realistic artist. His subjects consist primarily of Arizona plants, animals, and landscapes, although there is the occasional Maine coast lighthouse, old rusted truck, or portrait.

John’s exposure to nature began at a remote mine in the Bradshaw Mountains of central Arizona. When his parents moved the family to Tucson, the birds, insects, and plants of the Sonoran Desert became the subjects of his numerous drawings and paintings. After teaching life science courses at a Nebraska community college for twenty-eight years, he returned home to Tucson.

Working with acrylics or watercolor, he attempted to convey his love of nature through the colors and designs that fascinated him since childhood.

His works are in many private collections. One of John’s paintings was accepted into the Top 200 of the Arts for the Parks Competition displayed in Jackson, Wyoming. Among other awards, he twice won first place in the North American Butterfly Association art competition.

John was a member of the Southern Arizona Arts Guild and the Arizona Native Plant Society. He contributed several botanical illustrations to the Legumes of Arizona project, one of which was selected for the 2013 exhibit Botanical Art of the Sonoran Desert: Past & Present.

Select images to view in Gallery

Calochortus kennedyi Mammillaria tetrancistra

All artwork is copyrighted by the artist.