Art and Exhibits

Sun Catchers by John Hylton in New Zealand Garden

Art Exhibitions - Ongoing 

The Harrison's "Future Garden For the Central Coast of California" 

Art Exhibition by Newton Harrison & Helen Mayer Harrison  

future garden
Installation in progress - 2018

Write-up from 2018:

The Institute of the Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce a major art and science project by Newton Harrison and his late wife and lifelong collaborator Helen Mayer Harrison.

Internationally renowned eco-artists and UC Santa Cruz emeritus faculty, the Harrisons created a site-specific environmental art installation in the three geodesic domes and the surrounding garden at the Arboretum. Called Future Garden for the Central Coast of California, the installation, which Newton Harrison continues to evolve, transforms the newly refurbished domes at the Arboretum from relics of the past, steeped in 1970s era charm, into carriers of the future in response to the crisis of climate change. Learn more.

Watch a video by the UCSC Arts Division showcasing the Future Gardens of the Central Coast of California exhibit.

Where to find the multi-year exhibit: up and over the hill from Norrie's Gift & Garden Shop or follow signs to Future Garden from the Visitor Parking Lot

Herm Aphrodite, Mosiac Banana Slug

By Su Gatch


Herm Aphrodite lays under the Incense Cedar tree in the South Africa Garden

On Saturday, October 26, 2019, Herm Aphrodite, a giant banana slug outfitted in glittering yellow, orange, and iridescent purple glass tiles, was officially welcomed to the UCSC Arboretum. Herm is the whimsical creation of local graphic artist and ceramicist Su Gatch ( Read more about the artist and 'Herm' below. 


Art Exhibitions from previous years



Art in the ArboretumEnvironmental Installations
May 20 to November 17, 2017

Watch a beautiful video that provided a unique aerial view of the Environmental Installations Exhibit.

wolf sculpture

Art in the Arboretum: Environmental Installations

The twelve artists participating are Jamie Abbott, Lucia Bruer, Wendy Domster, Barbara Downs, Ethan Estess, Jayson Fann, Diana Hobson, Roy Holmberg, John Hylton, Sharon Loper, Jenni Ward and Larry Worley. Get to know some of the artists.

Highlights of this exhibition include gigantic woven nests, ceramic fields of wild mustard, concrete Eucalyptus seedpods with enormous steel leaves, a series of walk-through concentric circles inspired by the Protea flower, and more. 

Watch an introductory video on Environmental Installations.

Susana Arias, Curator 831.566.6607 /

Art in the Arboretum: Color
October 15, 2017 - January 10, 2018

Watch a video on the Color Exhibit

The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum proudly presents Art in the Arboretum, a rotating show of two sculpture exhibits per year, themed by nature and placed strategically throughout the gardens.  During the run of each exhibit, the Arboretum will host an Opening Reception in coordination with First Friday Santa Cruz with demonstrations and workshops.  All pieces are available for purchase. 

art in arboretum color flyerArt in the Arboretum is being curated by local artist and sculptor Susana Arias to promote art and artists in Santa Cruz.

“We are extremely honored and grateful for Susana’s involvement and expertise.  She has selected exquisite sculptures by some of our most beloved Santa Cruz artists to kick off the first of a series of art exhibits at the Arboretum —Martin Quigley, Executive Director, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Arias ( is leading this important project due to her passion for art and her desire to promote and encourage her fellow artists: “Santa Cruz is home to a remarkable group of sculptors who showcase an amazing variety of mediums and approaches. I love to organize events at which artists and art can be introduced to the public, and the Arboretum is the ideal venue to meld the two together – a perfect complement of art and nature.” 

• Press Release

 Color Artists: Jamie Abbott, Susana Arias, Cristie Aloysi & Scott Graham, Lea De Wit, Barbara Downs, Eileen Fitz-Faulkner, Roy Holmberg, Nancy Howells, Marilyn Kuksht, Robert Kvenild, Terrie Kvenild, Anna Martin, Barbara Vanderbeck, and Stan Welsh.  Artist Profiles. (pdf)

Get to Know the Artists in Color: Cristy Aloysi & Scott GrahamSusana AriasLea De Wit; Barbara Downs; Eileen Fitz-FaulknerMarilyn KukshtRobert KvenildBarbara Vanderbeck; Stan Welsh. (pdfs)

Art in the Arboretum: Sculpture
May 18 - October 10, 2016 

Press Release

• Sculpture Artists: Jamie AbbottJeffrey Arnett, Jennifer Hennig, Coeleen Kiebert, Marilyn Kuksht, Anna Martin, Kirk McNeil, Christie Thomas & Scott Lindberg, and Jenni Ward. Artist profiles. (pdf)

Workshops, demonstrations and reception

Art in the Arboretum Advisory Committee:
Susana Arias, Curator
Linda Craighead
Kathleen Hilger
Susan Leask
Rose Sellery

Demonstrations and Workshops Committee:
Susana Arias, Curator
Jamie Abbott
Lucia Breuer
Roy Holmberg

Public Relations and Grants Committee:
Susana Arias, Curator
Sharon Maxwell
Becca King Reed

Herm Aphrodite, Mosiac Banana Slug

More about Su Gatch and how 'Herm Aphrodite', the giant banana slug, came into being.

Her family moved to Santa Cruz in the 1960’s and, though she left to attend college in Los Angeles, Su returned soon after—Santa Cruz is home. As a child, she loved designing and sewing her own clothes and working with clay; in high school, theater became her focus and her plan was to be a costume designer in Hollywood. But after taking a calligraphy class in college, she was instantly employed by friends to design invitations and posters and that ultimately lead to her twenty-plus year career as a graphic artist. Currently, Su is the one-person graphic arts “department” at JourneyWorks Publishing in Santa Cruz. As the profession transformed from a handmade craft into a computer-based art form, Su’s need to create tangible items resurfaced. Jewelry making was her first foray, but mosaics soon became her chosen medium as it is totally “hands-on” and allows limitless creativity. Yes, she did start with picassiette (smashing colorful dishware into bits and pieces) but now uses primarily foraged or purchased glass and stone tiles for her creations, such as Eva’s Hat and Cowboy Boot 1, two of her favorites.

         herm-aphrodite-unveiled-final-1.jpg             herm-aphrodite-unveiled-final-2.jpg

The idea for Herm arose when Su shared a photo of a large (12 feet tall) mosaic octopus on her Facebook page. Her friend and artist Susana Arias, who curated several Art in the Arboretum exhibitions, suggested Su create a similar piece, a giant slug, and they worked on the maquette together.


Once the model was done, the work on Herm could begin. The project (“in progress” above) took far more time than Su anticipated—a year and a half—so Herm missed the deadline to be featured in the Arboretum’s 2016 Color in the Garden exhibition. The piece finished in time to debut at Sculpture IS 2018 hosted by Sierra Azul Nursery and Gardens in Watsonville. After Herm was placed beneath a large tree in the Arboretum’s South African Garden back in July, Su was thrilled to hear from Executive Director Martin Quigley that “slug rides” are the popular activity with children visiting the Arboretum: “I feel incredibly honored Herm’s generous donors made it possible for this sculpture to live at the Arboretum, and being a magnet for children matches my original idea for Herm to become a playground sculpture." Before and after the unveiling of the donor plaque, friends of Su’s gathered to enjoy food and beverages while listening to music of the Poor Carters, who often play in Santa Cruz at Lulu Carpenter’s. The Oct 26 event was held to thank the people involved in bringing this unique sculpture to the Arboretum as part of its permanent art in the garden collection. It was a perfect day for a beautiful banana slug to be celebrated.


  From left: artist Su Gatch, donors Tibi and Eric McCann, friends Debbie and Joe Reed. 



Sound Installation from 2018

FOREST (for a thousand years...)

by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
April 7- June 30, 2018

The Institute of the Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with the UC Santa Cruz's Arboretum and Botanic Garden and the San Jose Museum of Art, is pleased to present FOREST (for a thousand years...), the beguiling and uncanny audio installation by renowned Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, April 7- June 30, 2018.
   FOREST (for a thousand years...) can be experienced in the redwood grove of UC Santa Cruz's Arboretum and Botanic Garden. This is the West Coast debut of the 28-minute sound installation, originally commissioned for dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany.
   As Gregory Volk wrote in Art in America , "A remarkable thing about Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's utterly captivating sound installation is how it blurs distinctions between site and art. You enter a clearing in the forest, sit down on a wooden stump, and simply listen. ..." Read more on this exciting exhibit.