Mary Jane Zander
I grew up near Chicago, Illinois. My first “job”, at 10 years old, was planting seedlings in my father’s green house. The greenhouse was a large structure and housed my father’s large collections of camellias, orchids, chrysanthemums and exotic birds. At one time, it had been the Greenhouse for the estate of John D Hertz, who raised race horses on the property, and Otto Schnering, known for creating Baby Ruth candy bars.
Originally, the 700 acre farm was a model environment which integrated agriculture, aquaculture and truck gardens. Stables and gardens were integrated into a landscape that included trout streams and pastures with rolling hills. In the 1960’s the farm was sold for development. Its buildings were remodeled as business and new homes were built on garden plots and pastures. Ours was one of them.
It was a perfect place to ride horses, climb trees, fish in the ponds and learn about nature. It was there that I developed my love of the outdoors, plants, and nature. Even the orchids I paint today were first introduced to me in my father’s greenhouse.
My art re-visits those early discoveries. Look for the things I learned as a child—the uniqueness of each plant, see the drops of honey meant to attract a pollinator, the transparency of a petal, or the order of sepals in an opening bud. As a child I could identify a cypripedium, a calceolaria, and a cymbidium. As an adult I use my art to make sense of the differences between them.