Visual Arts

Peter Loewer: Nature Art from Pompeii to Today

The North Carolina Arboretum’s adult education program is offering Nature Art from Pompeii to Today, a six-week class held from 2–4 p.m. each Tuesday from March 21 through April 25. The course, taught by Peter Loewer, will cover a history of the depiction of nature beginning with Ancient Egypt, moving on to the 14th century and ending with examples of art in the garden and the garden as art in the 21st century.

“Because I’ve been teaching the subject for such a long time, I suspect that I’ve been successful at extolling the arts in a way that most people learn something new in every class,” says Loewer, who also teaches at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Asheville- Buncombe Technical Community College.

Loewer has written and/or illustrated more than 30 books, including The Wild Gardener, which was named by the American Horticultural Society as one of the 75 best gardening books of the 20th century. His botanical drawings are included in the permanent collection of Carnegie Mellon University’s Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation and he hosts the radio show “The Wild Gardener” on Asheville’s WCQS Public Radio. “I enjoy meeting new people and helping to get the word out about how necessary the study of art history is to all communities and to all public schools,” he says.

Loewer’s class will discuss why the digital camera, often considered the best method for capturing plants and flowers, falls short when compared with botanical illustrations. Works studied will include Beatrix Potter’s scientific illustrations, Van Gogh’s bouquets, Audubon’s prints and Dr. Robert Thornton’s “Temple of Flora.”

Nature Art from Pompeii to Today is one of more than one hundred classes offered each year through The North Carolina Arboretum’s adult education program. Areas of study include natural history; fine art and craft; health, wellness and adventure; and horticulture and landscape design. All classes are taught by instructors with extensive backgrounds in their areas.

“Some are retired university professors and others have international reputations,” says Beth Johnson, the Arboretum’s adult education coordinator. “All of them have a genuine enthusiasm for the subjects they teach and are able to share that with students of all levels.”

The Arboretum’s offerings, which range from oneday workshops to multi-week classes, attract everyone from young adults to retirees. “Many students jump into subjects they have always been curious about, but haven’t studied before,” says Johnson.

“The Arboretum’s mission statement involves connecting people to plants and our classes enable them to do that in a variety of ways.”

The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. The class fee is $86 for members, $96 for non-members. To register, visit A full listing of classes can be found at or in the Arboretum’s “Growing the Mind” Adult Education print catalog. 

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