Aroused Tranquility: Graphic Botanicals by Henry Evans

A detailed illustration of a plant, featuring three prominent orange flowers with intricate green stems and leaves
Poppies, Henry Evans, 1982

Exhibition Dates

March 18, 2012 to April 22, 2012

Drawn primarily from the holdings of the University of San Francisco’s Donohue Rare Book Room, Aroused Tranquility features mono- and multi-color prints by Bay Area master printmaker Henry Evans.

About the Artist

Henry Evans (1918-1990), a prolific illustrator and printmaker of California flora, produced more than 1,400 linoleum-block prints during his 31-year career. Perhaps best known for his iconic prints of the California poppy, Evans worked with living plants to illustrate their most essential characteristics, depicting them at their actual size and mixing his own inks to create the colors he saw in nature. His artworks are simultaneously illustrative and evocative, revealing influences of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Admired by art lovers and naturalists alike, his use of line and bold color demonstrates the artist’s deep respect and understanding of natural forms, suggesting what the artist referred to as “aroused tranquility.” Although he was a self-taught artist, printmaker and botanist, he was a major figure in the Bay Area small-press community. 

Originally from Wisconsin, Henry Evans studied at three Bay Area institutions: UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and San Francisco City College. He opened his first bookstore, H.H. Evans, on Sacramento Street, moving his book business several times over the years. In 1964, he became a full-time artist and printmaker, changing the sign on his 308 Clement Street storefront to read “Henry Evans Printmaker.” A celebrated writer, he wrote as well as illustrated numerous books and magazine articles. In 1977, he won a Commonwealth Club Silver Medal for Botanical Print: With Excerpts from the Artist’s Notebook (Originally printed by W. H. Freeman & Co. and reprinted in 2010 by Counterpoint Press). His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and the California Academy of Sciences. 

Reception and Printmaking Demonstration

Tuesday, March 27
10:30-11:30 am and 1:00-2:00 pm
Donohue Rare Book Room and Thacher Gallery

In the Donohue Rare Book Room, guests will view a printing demonstration on the 1854 Albion hand-press and take away original botanical linoleum block prints created by University of San Francisco students. A reception will take place in the Thacher Gallery.