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25 Years of Botanical Art; A Brief History of BAGSC

I am fairly new to BAGSC, having joined in 2019. I was interested in how The Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California became the organization it is today. I thought some of you may also be interested in this history. Here is a brief overview of the history of BAGSC.

In 1997 Olga Eysymontt taught a botanical art class at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Her students were as enthusiastic about botanical art as Olga was. The idea to form a group for botanical art students and artists began to grow for Olga and her students. Olga and her students decided to meet and discuss how they could form this group and what their goals would be.

The first meeting was in August 1997, and they unofficially named the group “Olga and Friends.” Present at this meeting were, Carol Telesky, Sharon Linnea Johnson, Olga Eysymontt, Corey Hooper, Mary Zemel-Kane, Janet Gorman, Teri Umhauer, David Berge and Gilly Shaeffer. The first order of business for this enthusiastic group was to set goals. They decided a group show as well as the promotion of botanical art to be the goals they would work towards. In subsequent meetings an official name was decided “The Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California” (BAGSC). Officers were established. The first President was Janet Gorman; Vice President, Gilly Shaeffer; Secretary, Olga Eysymontt; Treasurer; Mary Zemel-Kane; Membership Chairperson, Corey Hooper; and, Exhibit Chairperson was Carol Telesky.

BAGSC Members at one of the first BAGSC Exhibitions at Hortus
BAGSC members at one of the first BAGSC Exhibitions at Hortus

BAGSC has gone above and beyond that early goal of a group show that Olga and Friends strived for. There have been numerous BAGSC exhibitions around Southern California. A few of the venues have included: The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino; Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia; Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge; San Diego Botanic Garden, Encinitas; Roger's Gardens nursery, Corona del Mar; Chapman University, Leatherby Libraries, Orange. In 2019, BAGSC held an exhibition at the Madrona Marsh Preserve & Nature Center in Torrance.

An early goal was to become an official chapter of the national organization, the American