“Plants fuel life on Earth by tapping the sun’s energy. But if plants are the main mediators between the physical and biological worlds, why do most people tend to appreciate animals so much more than plants?”

That question from science writer William Allen opened an article in the esteemed Oxford Journal. It’s at the heart of a new movement aimed at curing what’s deemed “plant blindness.”

It’s also the subject of the next Science Café from the University of South Alabama (USA) Archaeology Museum, a series aimed at elevating the awareness of science among Mobile’s general population. The events are described as “engaging conversations with a scientist or social scientist about timely topics.”

September’s Science Café filled the courtyard of the OK Bicycle Shop (661 Dauphin St.) with attendees eager to get an earful about the origins and fallacies of the anti-vaccination movement. Organizers are hoping for a similar turnout on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. when USA Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Brian Axsmith will open the crowd’s eyes to flora.
The event is free.

Vampire lectures in late October
We all have our favorite terrifying characters that arise every Halloween. Some are cobbled together in a laboratory or come to life when the full moon ascends. But for others, the allure of the undead is too hypnotic to resist.
This October, a pair of institutions will feed your lust for blood suckers with a pair of lectures on the subject of vampires. No matter which side of Interstate 65 you’re on, there’s an event near you.

On Oct. 22 at 6 p.m., the Gulf Coast Exploreum (65 Government St.) will have the first of its Spark Talks when USA Assistant Professor of Anthropology Dr. Lesley Gregoricka brings vampires into the light. She will cover the role of vampires in popular culture, the origins and biological basis of the vampire myth and her own bioarchaeological work with the skeletons of individuals buried as vampires in 17th century Poland.

Dr. Gregoricka holds a bachelor’s in anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and master’s and doctorate degrees in anthropology from The Ohio State University. She has written and lectured extensively on related topics and serves as a forensic anthropology consultant with the Mobile Police Department Identification Unit.

Tickets cost $6 per person. Light refreshments are included.

For more info, call 251-208-6893 or visit exploreum.com.

If you miss that opportunity, Dr. Gregoricka will cover the same material on Oct. 29, 6 p.m., at the USA Archaeology Museum (6052 USA Drive S.). That event is co-sponsored by the Mobile Medical Museum.

For more info about the second event, call 251-460-6106.

Good news from over the Bay
Eastern Shore Art Center (ESAC) sends good word about honorees from a big event and new appointments at its Fairhope facility.

First was news of the winners of the Grand Festival of Art that just took place. The following artists took home well-deserved notice: best of show, Jinsheng Song; first place, Tonya Dischler; second place, Jason Wilson; award of merit, Joel Lockridge. Honorable mentions were awarded to Julie Salvetti, Chris Redlich, Bill Billingsley and Al Eastridge.

(Photo/facebook.com/SaraBowenPottery) Detail of pottery by Sara Bowen, now showing at the Alabama School of Math and Science along with paintings by fellow alum Logan Tanner.

(Photo/facebook.com/SaraBowenPottery) Detail of pottery by Sara Bowen, now showing at the Alabama School of Math and Science along with paintings by fellow alum Logan Tanner.

Next was word ESAC has chosen Hannah Lyle as its new academy director. A 2010 Bayside Academy graduate, Lyle earned her bachelor’s degree in history with a double minor in theater and music from Auburn University. She went on to graduate from the Masters of the Arts in Humanities program at the University of Chicago.

Congrats to all!

ASMS alums return for joint show
A pair of Huntsville natives, both Alabama School of Math and Sciences alumni, will have their work on display at the school’s art gallery from now through Jan. 8. The joint show featuring painter Logan Tanner and potter Sara Bowen is entitled “Double-Walled Vases and Imaginary Vases.”

Tanner continued his post-ASMS education at the University of Montevallo where he graduated with a bachelor’s of fine art in 2012. His subject matter is rooted in reality but fully blooms in the gardens of imagination before making it to canvas.

“The landscapes include representation of the rural South, imaginings of exotic lands and abstract planes of pure imagination. Many of the monsters inhabiting the canvases are inspired by carnivorous plants native to the Southeast mutated into vaguely human forms. They are attended by their pollinators, and the two in combination create a narrative of desire and deception,” Tanner said of his work.

Bowen opted to attend Birmingham-Southern College after ASMS and earned a bachelor’s in art history. Her technique involves patterned holes and cutouts, and adds hand-spun yarn to affect how much light gets through the outer wall. She even illuminates one vase from the inside.

“The vases range from smoothly curved traditional shapes, heavily controlled by the potter’s hand, to more organic, flowing shapes affected more by the motion of the potter’s wheel,” Bowen said. “The decoration includes meticulously planned lacy patterns and more flowing carved cutouts and even gouged holes in the shape of the potter’s fingers.”

The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m to 4 p.m. It is closed on weekends.