Art News

Selby Gardens' Summer Exhibit Will Feature Artist John Pirman's Work

"Diving into Nature" will be on view at Selby's downtown Sarasota campus from July 22-Sept. 17.

By Staff May 18, 2023

John Pirman in his studio.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ downtown Sarasota campus will feature the artwork of Sarasota-based designer and illustrator—and longtime Sarasota Magazine contributor—John Pirman from July 22 through September 17. John Pirman: Diving into Nature will be feature Pirman's work inside Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts and outdoors throughout the gardens' bayfront spaces.

Pirman has lived in Sarasota since 2008 and some of our area's most beloved local spaces have appeared in his work. “The exhibition will show how John captures Sarasota’s natural beauty and historic architecture in a unique way, which emphasizes the interplay between these two distinctive features of our local landscape,” says Dr. David Berry, vice-president for visitor engagement and chief museum curator of Selby Gardens. 

The exhibition’s indoor displays will loosely follow Pirman’s development as an artist, from his childhood years in Ohio through his freelance illustration career in New York City and, finally, his current practice in Sarasota.

Pool Divers, 1988, by John Pirman

Image: John Pirman

Outside, the show will feature large-scale prints of Pirman’s illustrations on aluminum, set directly in the landscape. Among these will be several beloved views of Selby Gardens, including Selby House, the koi pond, and the Moreton Bay fig tree, displayed in situ in their respective locations.

“John Pirman is a beloved treasure locally and a renowned artist nationally,” says Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens. “To appreciate John’s art and his love of the outdoors in our botanical garden setting is an experience perfectly suited to our bayfront sanctuary in summer.”

A number of pieces in the show have never been exhibited to the public before. Highlights include the original preparatory designs for a number of Pirman’s finished pieces in cut paper, a technique he developed from an early age. In addition, two of his earliest pieces, from kindergarten and third grade, will be on view. A selection of Pirman's digital illustrations for Sarasota Magazine, including several classic scenes from Selby Gardens’ two campuses, will also be featured. 

John Pirman's illustration of Historic Spanish Point’s sunken gardens and pergola appeared on the back cover of March/April 2023 issue of Sarasota Magazine.

Image: John Pirman

Pirman has created editorial art for Fortune, Premiere, Hemispheres, Vogue, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among other national publications. Commercial work on display will include shopping bags, promotional materials and holiday cards for clients such as Bloomingdale’s, Estée Lauder, Nick at Nite and The Museum of Modern Art, which has included Pirman’s holiday cards in its retail store for 15 years.

In 1992 and 1993, Pirman was under contract with Viacom to re-brand Nick at Nite’s on-air promotions, which included designing TV ads promoting The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show while also designing promo premiums such as mugs, dishes, clocks, neckties and scarves. Advertising clients of Pirman’s include J. McLaughlin, New York Botanical Garden, American Express, Pfizer, Macy’s and Pantone, as well as Sarasota Orchestra and The Ringling.

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