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Photographer, illustrator see eye to eye in San Diego Botanic Garden exhibit

At first glance, the two artists don’t have much in common.

Rachel Cobb, who lives in New Jersey, is a professional photographer. Illustrator Lesley Randall lives in San Diego.

But they share a love of capturing plants in their respective media. That sparked “Double Take,” a new exhibit at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas where visitors will see Cobb’s photographs and Randall’s fine art side by side, depicting the same plant species.

The exhibit will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 26 in the Botanic Garden’s Ecke Building.

The artists said their approaches complement each other.

“I do a lot of black and white drawings, so I tend to see in shadow and light,” Randall said.

To which Cobb added: “I’m strictly a natural light photographer. I go back throughout the day to capture different shadows from surrounding plants.”

They agreed on which plants to capture beforehand, but didn’t show each other their finished works until the exhibit’s opening on July 20.

“I was kinda surprised when we put them together — how close some of them are,” Cobb said with a laugh. “I guess we saw some of the same stuff.”

Since 2006, Cobb has visited the Botanic Garden four or five times yearly to take pictures. And Randall is the Botanic Garden’s curator of collections. When their paths collided, they bonded over an interest in rare and exotic plants, leading to the exhibit.

Because both women closely watch the garden, they know their subject matter well. Cobb enjoys capturing plants’ life cycles, while Randall said she constantly has her eye on “what’s alive and what’s dying in the garden” for her job.

“We’re both documenting in our own ways,” Cobb said. “It’s been amazing to watch the garden change over the years.”

Through collaborating on the exhibit, the women said they’ve become better friends.

Are more joint exhibits in the works?

“I hope so,” Randall said. “With talking and working on this together, we got to know each other better.”


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