With 130 native plant species in a little over three acres, Loda Cemetery Prairie is one of the best black soil remnants in the state. It was preserved in 1981 when the Natural Land Institute, Illinois Nature Conservancy, and Grand Prairie Friends helped the adjacent Pine Ridge cemetery meet its expansion needs by swapping this reserved patch of unplowed burial ground for adjacent cornfields. Since then, the Friends, now full owners, have purchased and are restoring a further nine acres to buffer the remnant. Before I started my painting there, I encountered a colorful cicada making its loud rasping call. Prairie cicadas are only found in unplowed remnants and are as rare as the sight of an original prairie sweeping toward the western horizon.
Painted on location. Canvas mounted to hardboard.
May 1 - September 12, 2021
Chicago Botanic Garden
Picturing the Prairie: A Vision of Restoration
Published in conjunction with Philip’s 2021 exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Contributors include: Philip Juras, artist and author; Hank Paulson, foreword; and Stephen Packard, essay. Published by Little Bluestem Press, Athens, GA, 2021.