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Local artists get ready to shine for Rotary Gardens art project

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Shelly Birkelo
February 27, 2013

— Barb Tapovatz and Gail Hatton are shedding light on Rotary Botanical Gardens 2013 art project, “Here Come the Suns.”

The Janesville artists are among those artistically interpreting a sun design cut from plywood by garden volunteers.

After the artists and others finish decorating the 36 suns, they'll be installed throughout the gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, and on display May 12 through Sept. 6.

The art project started four years ago to promote community participation and artist collaboration. It also creates awareness and generates funds to support the 20-acre nonprofit botanic garden that features more than 20 garden areas and 4,000 varieties of plants, said Denise Peters-Kauihou, resource development director.

Cost to participate is $40. As of Tuesday, five suns remained available for pickup at the gardens' Parker Education Center.

Winner of the People's Choice Award will be announced Sept. 15 during the Sun Garden Art Auction, Peters-Kauihou said.

Meanwhile, Tapovatz and Hatton continue working on their “Starry Night” sun, which also is the theme of the gardens' July 13 Garden Gala, formerly known as the annual dinner dance.

Dressed in long, white shirts streaked with acrylic paint, the women turned and swirled thick strokes of brilliant color onto their sun that lay on a cloth-draped table in Hatton's upstairs home studio.

Appropriately, sunshine provided natural light for the women as they worked. The front side of their project mimics Vincent Van Gogh's painting “Starry Night.” The back is sunflowers.

The women are Friends of Rotary Botanical Gardens and met five years ago through an art class. They paint together weekly and are members of the Janesville Art League and Bower City Garden Club. The late Marilyn Keating was their art mentor.

The women have worked on Rotary Gardens art projects before.

“We do it to heighten awareness and keep the arts going,” Tapovatz said.

“We want to raise money for the gardens,” Hatton said.

To get started on their sun, the women sketched on the plywood with a water-based crayon.

“You have to draw first to get the right perspective,” Hatton said.

“This is round, and we're working from a rectangular reference,” Tapovatz said.

The women worked on the project six hours Sunday and had about three more hours of work remaining.

Tapovatz summed up their sunny efforts: “It's for the enjoyment of the public, draws people out and is just an enhancement for the gardens.”



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