Sarasota’s own John Pirman in spotlight at Selby Gardens

Dive into nature this summer at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus which will feature the iconic artwork of Sarasota-based designer and illustrator John Pirman from July 22 through September 17, 2023.

John Pirman: Diving into Nature will be presented both inside Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts and outdoors throughout the bayfront Gardens. The retrospective-like show will include many of Pirman’s signature views of Sarasota and its surroundings, complemented by a diverse range of works from earlier in his career. A number of pieces in the show have never been exhibited to the public before.

“John Pirman is a beloved treasure locally and a renowned artist nationally,” Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens, said. “His work celebrates Sarasota and its world-class attributes in such a fun and alluring way. To appreciate John’s art and his love of the outdoors in our botanical garden setting is an experience perfectly suited to our bayfront sanctuary in summer.”

Pirman’s distinctive digital illustrations of Sarasota and its natural and architectural features have been showcased in each issue of Sarasota Magazine for over a decade. A selection of these images, including several classic scenes from Selby Gardens’ two campuses, will be featured indoors or in situ outdoors in their respective areas around the campus.

The show will extend well beyond these Sarasota views to encompass numerous examples of Pirman’s earlier work as a freelance illustrator over three decades in New York City. They include shopping bags, promotional materials, and holiday cards for clients such as Bloomingdale’s, Estée Lauder, Nick at Nite, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Highlights of the exhibition will include the original preparatory designs for a number of Pirman’s finished pieces, exquisitely executed in cut paper, a technique he developed from an early age. In addition, two of his earliest pieces—from kindergarten and third grade—will be presented.

“The layout of the exhibition will loosely follow the journey of John’s development as an artist, from his formative years in Ohio to his career in New York City and, ultimately, his current practice here in Sarasota,” Dr. David Berry, vice president for visitor engagement and chief museum curator of Selby Gardens, said. “The exhibition will show how John captures Sarasota’s natural beauty and historic architecture in a unique way, which emphasizes the interplay between these two distinctive features of our local landscape.”

Several pieces in the show will be available for purchase.

About the Artist

John Pirman has lived in Sarasota since 2008. Prior to that, he spent nearly 30 years in New York City.

He created editorial art for FortunePremiereHemispheresVogueThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among numerous other national publications. In 1992 and 1993, Pirman was under contract with Viacom re-branding “Nick at Nite’s” on-air promotions, which included designing TV ads promoting “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “I Love Lucy,” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and designing promo premiums such as mugs, dishes, clocks, neckties, and scarves.

For 15 years, MoMA has included Pirman’s holiday cards in its retail store. Advertising clients of Pirman’s include J.McLaughlin, New York Botanical Garden, American Express, Pfizer, Macy’s, and Pantone, as well as local organizations Sarasota Orchestra and The Ringling.

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