Boyce Thompson Arboretum Show

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Show

One of hardest things to do as an artist is to present a cohesive body of work.  When a solo show comes into the picture the shear amount of work becomes exponential if the gallery is large.  Having had a number of solo shows in the past, I started working on the Boyce Thompson State Park show as soon as I was notified.  One thing that kicks off the event is press releases and this is my first release to be used by the Arboretum:



Heather Coen has taken the road less traveled and it has made all the difference. Born on the sweeping plains just below the Rockies in Innisvale, Alberta, Canada her lifelong dream emerged at a very young age. Since her mother attended art school and could draw and paint in watercolor, Heather fondly remembers playing with art supplies as a child. Heather claims she was “born with a paint brush in her hand” as she does not re-call a time when she was not artistically enthralled.   Since then she has traveled the back roads of the United States, visited many exotic islands all over the word, and ventured to Europe and South America. “As I stop and consider the earth’s incredible beauty, I know that God exists and it is my privilege to try and capture lifes fleeting majestic essence in my oil and pastel paintings.“


Educated as and Engineer and Photographer in her 20’s, she admits she gets “bored very easily.” She has been a technical assistant at the research and development laboratories at Hewlett Packard; owned and operated a successful photography and writing business having been published in many magazines and newspapers in the U.S., Europe and Canada; and finally had a broker’s license in Real Estate for many years. As she worked at these jobs, her whole focus was on becoming a full time artist. “As I faithfully saved everything I could, my whole thought was that the future would open the doors to my artistic career. Early in my life, I was able to apprentice to two master artists that I knew were successful and well respected and spent three years part time with each of them. The practice of being an apprentice is not being used by artists anymore and I am so glad I got the ground work and the discipline to learn from these incredible artists before I started my hundred miles of canvas. That saying means that before you really can be successful as an artist, you must learn by painting through 100 miles of canvas so that color, composition, value and beauty flow from your brush naturally.”


In 2003, Heather decided that the bank account was big enough and the 100 miles of canvas were finished. She went full-time as an artist. She moved from Denver, Colorado to Gilbert, Arizona a year ago. “Having been wildly successful as an artist in Colorado did not translate to the desert environment very well.” Soon she realized that part of her past accomplishments were reflected by networking within the community. “I also did not realize how extremely different the environment in Phoenix would affect my work. Somehow I thought that the desert only had certain special adapted animals and birds. Then I happened upon Boyce Thompson Arboretum.”


“I walked through the Park last December in awe as the guide talked about the ‘Plants in the Bible.’” When I visited the next time, I saw a bright red cardinal in the Butterfly Garden, a squirrel in the cactus, a field of wild flowers in the Demonstration Garden and I was totally stunned.   The oasis planted so long ago by Boyce Thompson had more than exceeded his ambitions: The visitors in this garden went beyond humans as the migrating birds found water and rest, the butterflies and bees flourished, the carefully planted trees matured into homes and rest spots for all kinds of species becoming islands of green dappled shade. I would actually live on the grounds if I could and I would never be able to finish the paintings I can visualize in this slice of paradise. I would never have guessed anything like this garden was possible in such a hot and dry environment. It is almost a dichotomy as you look through the green lush trees to Magma Ridge in the background. It only shows what mankind could do if we let vision and a little water transform the desert into paradise. I had no clue when I landed here! ”

1 Comment
  • Heather Coen
    Posted at 22:19h, 23 June

    Taking care of all the details is so much work!