Juliet Whitsett reimagines native plants and animals and co-curates Really Small Museum ATX

March 20, 2023

Browsing the well-stocked garden store at Burton Springs Nursery recently, I stopped to admire a dozen framed graphic prints of cacti, butterflies, snakes, salamanders and other Texas flora and fauna. The artist behind these delightful works is Austinite Juliette Whitsett, and they are part of her “Threatened Texas” fine art prints that list the threatened and endangered species of Texas plants and animals.

I visited Juliet at her home shortly after, where she introduced me to another of her projects, the really small museum ATX. Together, he and fellow artist Marianne Newsome installed two micro-museum displays in each of their front yards. Reminiscent of a Little Free Library, each RSM is a white cube atop a post, with a plexiglass window displaying a small piece of artwork by a local artist. The art in the exhibition, curated by Juliette and Marianne, changes every month or so, giving passers-by an ongoing opportunity to admire new art and learn about the artists.

Juliet and Marianne dub each RSM with a name that plays on a well-known Austin art museum. The 14th Corner Contemporary, aka The 14th — with a humorous nod to The Contemporary Austin — greets visitors at 1311 Harvey Street. The Banton Road Museum of Art, aka The Banton — hat tip to The Blanton Museum of Art — can be found at 3509 Banton Road.

When Juliet and Marianne launched the Real Small Museum ATX installation, they expected it to be finished a year later, in November 2022. But its popularity has kept it going. I visited the 14th – the more environmentally focused of the two – in early March 2023 when a work by Tammy West called Ghost Seed – Prayer for our tree was on display. From @reallysmallmuseum_atx, here’s a description of his work:

“Ice storms, extreme heat and drought are stressing our trees. As the climate warms, it will eventually become too hot and dry for some plants. Older trees, especially in the west, are producing fewer seeds and some mature forests are not regenerating after fires. Tammy’s installation speaks to this concept with fragile and thin ghostly mesquite beans made of white clay, arranged in drought-stricken cracked soil. Pine trees nationwide have had a tough time due to drought and insect infestations. Our loblolly pines in Bastrop have been able to adapt to 30% less water than their older cousins ​​and have so far managed to avoid beetles, but will they keep up? For this solution; Prayer flags, made out of pine needles, send wishes to our trees.

You are invited to help us replace fallen trees from the recent ice storm. In the boxes below, please take some plant seeds and plant them in your yard or on public land, as well as leave seeds for others.”

In a small box on the ground, mesh jewelry bags contain plant seeds, given out for free in hopes of replacing trees downed by Austin’s February ice storm.

Juliet’s Cactus Art Print

I’m always fascinated by the creativity of Austin artists (see my recent post about Sean Smith’s “Ommatidium”), who are inspired by the beauty and fragility of our world and compelled to share that understanding with others. Check out Juliet’s personal work and her co-curated Real Small Museum ATX to immerse yourself in an artistic perspective.

Read more about the really small museum ATX at Glasstire.

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dig deep

Shop for native Texas plants At the Wildflower Center’s Spring Native Plant Sale. Held Friday through Sunday, March 24 through May 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first weekend is for Wildflower Center members only, so joining To enjoy this facility, and get free admission throughout the year and much more.

Tour season kicks off with the Great Outdoors Tour of the new Austin home March 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check out 7 designer landscapes for $20 and get ideas for your own outdoor living space.

Experience a surreal garden at the Zilkar Botanical Garden, with an enchanting neon-art display throughout the park, food and drink, music and dance, surreal performers and interactive art sculptures. Surreal costumes are encouraged! 25% of event proceeds benefit the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy. April 6 (VIP Night), April 7-8 and April 13-15 runs from 6:30pm to 11pm.

Add your juicy collection to Austin Cactus and Succulent Society Spring Show and Sale April 15 and 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Zilker Botanical Gardens. Come enjoy the plant show, shop for unique plants and pottery, and participate in a silent auction and raffle. Free with payment at Zilker Botanical Garden.

Tour 9 designer landscapes on the 2023 Austin Outdoor Living Tour May 6. Designers and manufacturers will be on hand to answer your questions. Cost is $33.85 for adults and $17.85 for children ages 12 to 17. For safety, no one under the age of 12 is to be carried except children.

Learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I host private talks with inspiring designers, landscape architects, and writers several times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Just click on this link and ask to be added. Season 7 begins in August. Stay tuned for the lineup!

All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Excavation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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