Matt Johnson is a Research Specialist at the University of Arizona and Program Manager and Curator of the Desert Legume Program (1989-present). The Desert Legume Program (DELEP) is a joint project of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. He was Botany Curator at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson from 1983 to 1987 and has worked in various capacities at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson Botanical Gardens, and in the commercial nursery industry in Arizona.

Matt is also a botanical illustrator with line illustrations and photographs appearing in several books and numerous other publications. He is the author of the field guide Cacti, other Succulents, and Unusual Xerophytes of Southern Arizona, (2004), and was one of the authors of Trees of Sonora, Mexico, (2001). Many of his illustrations appear in Trees of Sonora, Mexico and Flora of the Gran Desierto and Río Colorado of Northwestern Mexico (2000). He has over fifty published articles on botany and horticulture of plants from arid regions.


Manabu Saito was born in Tokyo, Japan. In 1957 he received a degree of Bachelor of Industrial Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. In 1970 he put aside his career in industrial design to become a full-time botanical artist and illustrator.

During the '70s and '80s he illustrated three books for Golden Books: Cacti (1973), What is a Tree (1976) and a field guide, Wild Flowers of North America (1984). His illustrations have been published in National Geographic and Horticulture magazines. In 1972, Audubon featured eight of his cactus paintings, and later issues included his paintings of endangered American plants. In 1984, the United States Postal Service asked him to paint four native American orchids that were issued as a set of commemorative stamps.

From 1980 to 2000 he was invited to present annual one-man shows at the Zyt Gallery in Los Altos, California. His paintings have been honored in one-man exhibitions at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the New York Botanical Garden, the New York Horticultural Society, Tohono Chul Park in Tucson, Arizona, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, and the Tucson Botanical Gardens, and his work has been in the biennial "Focus on Nature" exhibitions at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY.


Holly Swangstu received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Kansas City Art Institute. For the past 19 years, she has taught the fine and fundamental visual arts for all ages and for multiple organizations, including her own private art school.

As an active fiber artist, Holly has exhibited her woven textile paintings in 24 group exhibitions and ten solo exhibitions. She creates her paintings by assembling hand dyed cotton fabric onto canvas.

Holly is a graduate of the Ewing Kaufman Center for Entrepreneurship and regularly conducts executive leadership training for organizations in the Mid-West and the Pacific Northwest. She was curator and gallery director at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City and now is the Director of the Art Institute of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona.