The Long View, Prairie Paintings from Illinois Nature Preserves

July 1 - December 31, 2022

Illinois State Museum at Dickson Mounds

10956 N. Dickson Mounds Rd. Lewistown, Illinois

Philip’s paintings from 18 nature preserves across Illinois celebrate the 59-year legacy of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission and offer a window into the past and present nature of the prairie state.

Painting of Shoe Factory Road Prairie by Philip Juras

See Artist’s Statement below

Works in the exhibit organized by size: (note, three more smaller sized paintings will be added soon to finalize this list)

Winter Evening

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Sand Prairie-Scrub Oak Nature Preserve, Mason County, Illinois
2019

Oil on canvas 36 x 60 in. (91.4 x 152.4 cm)
Available

Beadles Barrens

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Edwards County, Illinois
2022

Oil on canvas 36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm)
Available

Nachusa Bison, June

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
2022

Oil on canvas 24 x 48 in. (61 x 121.9 cm)
Available

Shoe Factory Road Prairie

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Cook County, Illinois
2022

Oil on canvas 24 x 48 in. (61 x 121.9 cm)
Available
Sale pending

Doug’s Knob, December

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
December 17, 2018 (Finished 2019)

Oil on canvas 18 x 26 in. (45.7 x 66 cm)
Available

Remnant View

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
June 12, 2018

Oil on canvas 18 x 26 in. (45.7 x 66 cm)
Private collection

Doug’s Knob, October

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
October 20, 2017

Oil on canvas 18 x 26 in. (45.7 x 66 cm)
Available

Remnant Ridge

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
July 29, 2015 (Finished 2018)

Oil on canvas 18 x 26 in. (45.7 x 66 cm)
Private collection

Goat Prairie

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Hanover Bluff State Natural Area, Jo Daviess County, Illinois
September 30, 2016

Oil on canvas 12.25 x 18 in. (31.1 x 45.7 cm)
Private collection

Two Clouds

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Foley Sand Prairie, Lee County , Illinois
May 10, 2019

Oil on canvas 11 x 18 in. (27.9 x 45.7 cm)
Available

Sunbury Railroad Prairie

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Livingston County, Illinois
2022

Oil on canvas 12 x 16 in. (30.5 x 40.6 cm)
Available

Snow Shadow

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Henry Allan Gleason Nature Preserve, Mason County, Illinois
2022

Oil on canvas 16 x 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm)
Sale pending
Available

Munson Township Cemetery Prairie

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Henry County, Illinois
2022

Oil on canvas 12 x 16 in. (30.5 x 40.6 cm)
Available

Smoke Clearing

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
March 25, 2019

Oil on canvas 12 x 16 in. (30.5 x 40.6 cm)
Available

Sand Prairie

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Illinois Beach State Park, Illinois
July 26, 2015

Oil on canvas 10 x 16 in. (25.4 x 40.6 cm)
Private collection

Black Oaks

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Pembroke Savanna, Kankakee County, Illinois
August 18, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection

Combustion

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
March 26, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection

Receding Flame Front

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
March 26, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection

Post Oak

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Cave Creek Glade, Johnson County, Illinois
May 8, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection

Clifftop Verdure

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Fults Hill Prairie, Monroe County, Illinois
May 9, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Available

Tawny Slopes

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Revis Hill Prairie, Mason County, Illinois
May 9, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Available

Flame Front Departing

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
March 23, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Available

Building Black

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
March 25, 2019

Oil on canvas 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Available

August Flora

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Loda Cemetery Prairie, Iroquois County, Illinois
2022

Oil on hardboard 11 x 9 in. (27.9 x 22.9 cm)
Available

Plum Thicket

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
December 18, 2018

Oil on canvas 9 x 11 in. (22.9 x 27.9 cm)
Available

Late Color

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Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
June 12, 2018

Oil on canvas 9 x 11 in. (22.9 x 27.9 cm)
Available

Wet Prairie

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Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area, Grundy County, Illinois
June 14, 2018

Oil on canvas 9 x 11 in. (22.9 x 27.9 cm)
Private collection

Lockport Prairie

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Will County, Illinois
June 15, 2018

Oil on canvas 9 x 11 in. (22.9 x 27.9 cm)
Private collection

Limestone Bluffs

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Fults Hill Prairie, Monroe County, Illinois
June 11, 2018

Oil on canvas 9 x 11 in. (22.9 x 27.9 cm)
Available

Somme Prairie Grove

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Cook County, Illinois
August 19, 2019

Oil on canvas 8 x 12 in. (20.3 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection

 


 

Artist’s Statement:

As an artist, I’m enthralled by tallgrass prairie. Its beauty, rich ecology, and fascinating history are the essential ingredients in what I believe makes a compelling landscape. As a nature lover, I can’t get enough of it. I find it moving to set foot in a true prairie remnant where I can ponder the profusion of flowers and grasses and imagine how the patch of prairie in front of me could once have covered millions of acres.

In 2013, after falling in love with several prairie remnants and restorations in the Chicago area, Illinois’s grasslands began calling to me. I was inspired to seek a wider view of the nearly extinct ecosystem that gave Illinois, my mother’s home state, its nickname the Prairie State. Over an eight-year period, on more than a dozen trips from my home in Athens, Georgia, I was able to explore and paint many of the sites that hold the last .01% of Illinois’ original prairie, culminating in my 2021 exhibit Picturing the Prairie at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Works from that exhibit plus several new pieces are featured here in a celebration of the conservation legacy of the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission. The commission was created by a far-sighted act of the state legislature in 1963 to “assist private and public landowners in protecting high quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species.” Since then, over 600 important ecological sites have been protected, providing refuge for hundreds of species of plants and animals, and offering Illinoisans, and visiting artists, a glimpse of Illinois’ landscape before European settlement. Eighteen of those preserves are in this exhibit.

The paintings range geographically from the shore of Lake Michigan to the southern end of the state. They illustrate the visual variety found in remnant prairies based on physical characteristics such as topography and soil, their management history, and the ephemeral qualities of weather and season. The larger canvases were painted in my studio while almost all the smaller works were painted on location, sometimes rather quickly. Together, they represent multiple aspects of the tallgrass landscape I’ve come to cherish. For example, as a southerner more accustomed to densely forested environments, I find the long views in prairies irresistible. I’m equally fascinated by the relationship between humans and nature that has made it possible for prairies to persist east of the Mississippi River. Modern Illinois prairies not only require protection from development and farming; they must also receive substantial human care to keep them from being choked by invasive plants or shaded out by trees. That stewardship continues a long history of human influence on this grassland ecosystem. For millennia, Indigenous people adapted Illinois’s landscapes to their advantage, favoring prairies over forest through their use of fire. After a long absence, fire is again being used as one of several tools for maintaining and restoring prairie remnants, something I’ve been fortunate to capture in my paintings. By re-embracing the traditional role of prairie stewards, we humans will ensure that the distant views over the profuse blooms of intact remnant prairies can be experienced long into the future.


Illinois Nature Preserves featured in the Exhibit