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Desert Fables

Illustrations from The Neotenic Queen

September 2 – October 29, 2023

Baldwin Gallery


Opening Reception

Friday, September 1⋅4:00 – 6:00pm

Rachel Ivanyi’s watercolor paintings and their preliminary pencil sketches illustrate the book The Neotenic Queen: Tales of Sex and Survival in the Sonoran Desert, by Alejandro Canelos. These illustrations help tell the story of how the various inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert live, survive and continue as a species. Natural history-style watercolor paintings portray dramatic scenes that blend science, fantasy and a sense of humor to help connect people to the environmental realities influencing the wildlife of this region.  



Rachel Ivanyi is an award-winning contemporary nature artist, illustrator, and art educator. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of California, Davis, and a Graduate Certification in Natural Science Illustration from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

As a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation, her art lives in the hope that people look closer, feel deeper, and make positive changes in their lives and in the lives of others. Her work has been featured in solo, two-person, and group exhibitions, with many of her paintings appearing throughout the U.S. and internationally, as part of permanent museum collections, and in numerous private collections. Her illustration clients include National Geographic, Scientific American, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Smithsonian, and nature institutions around the world.


Rachel has also taught a wide variety of art classes as a core instructor for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute, in her beloved desert home of Tucson, Arizona, for over 20+ years. She is represented by Keep Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Alejandro Canelos was born in Nogales, Sonora and raised in Tucson. He earned a BA in Biology from Harvard in 1992. His second story collection,  Hunters and Thieves (Neotenic Press), was published in early 2023. In his spare time, he plays drums professionally—freelance, all styles—and sings tenor II in two community choirs. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, cheering on the UA Wildcats, jazz, and spending time with his family.


THE NEOTENIC QUEEN: Tales of Sex and Survival in the Sonoran Desert

For the animals and plants of the Arizona desert, every day is about staying alive. But it’s all the other stuff—desire, fidelity, hope, envy, grief, betrayal—that bridges the gap between science and fiction and highlights the interconnectedness of the human and natural worlds.

A wealthy Gila monster suffers from halitosis. A young peccary chooses a side in war. A rattlesnake upends the historic enmity between serpent and man. A subterranean termite princess comes home. Two mothers, a dove and a woodpecker, are confronted by an unthinkable crime. A rogue saguaro cactus learns to listen. A jilted roadrunner moonlights at a hummingbird sex resort. These and dozens more characters run, hop, slither, and fly through captivating storylines and natural history-style illustrations. Equal parts biology, fantasy, tragicomedy, and conservation, The Neotenic Queen is a collection of stunning revelations. Contains mature content.


Instagram:          @rachelivanyi

Facebook:           RachelIvanyiArt


Instagram: neotenic_queen

Entrance to the exhibit is included in museum admission or memberships.
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