Classic but Colorful Won at North Carolina’s “Art in Bloom”

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By Jill Brooke

“Art in Bloom,” the popular fund-raising flower fun event that museums around the country have each year,  just took place at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

The “Art in Bloom” series has floral artists interpret existing paintings with branches and blooms instead of paint. Matched together, they are eye-popping, smile-inducing, inspiring pieces that are prototypes of what people can also do in their own homes. After all, why buy a piece of art and not have a matching floral arrangement? Both enhance and elevate the visual effect.

According to museum spokesperson Kat Harding, there were 43 installations from 40 floral designers and an outdoor display from the Triangle Bonsai society. “Of those displays, 38 of them interpreted works of art in the collection,” she says. The sold-out event, which. was sponsored by PNC Bank,  had 28,000 people coming in for the five-day event.

Mark your calendars because next year’s event will start March 15-19.

Among the winners was West Queen Studio, which explored the “vibrant culture, fashion and flowers of Kenya, the world’s fifth-largest floral producing country.” (Netherlands, Ecuador, Columbia and U.S. are other big exporters of flowers). “The Art in Bloom allows floral designers to create art versus centerpieces,” explains Morgan Howell Moylan of West Queen Studio who won the People’s Award at the North Carolina event. Among the fab roses featured were Free Spirit –  those reliable orange-pink beauties – as well as Gotcha, Country Home and Red Hearts.

The Director’s Award went to E. W. Fulcher, from Blooms Work Raleigh. E. W.’s design, was inspired by Pieter Hugo’s “Naasra Yeti, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana”, 2009.  The floral arrangement was.  made up of white, purple, burgundy, and light pink flowers and mimic the photograph of a young woman in the background. Though the flower “hat” isn’t inverted.

The Designer’s Award went to Heather Ann Miller Thurmbuchler, from Eclectic Sage in Raleigh, NC.  Heather’s design was inspired by Gilbert Stuart’s “Mrs. Charles Davis (Eliza Bussey) (1783–1841)”, circa 1808–1809. A brass vase stands on a pedestal with a floral arrangement of light pink and yellow flowers and greenery draping down to mimic a portrait of a woman in the background.

Here are other exquisite interpretations. Let us know what are your favorites on our Instagram. Our editors will share not only what we considered the winners but also what were YOUR favorites since our audience consists of flower lovers from around the world. Beauty is always burdened by subjectivity in judging contests –  I know because I am also a judge –  but luckily all these artists are worthy of respect and applause. They are such visual treats that uplift your day and fill you with inspiration as well.

Francisco Garcia, Watered Garden Florist, Durham, NC Inspiration: Flowers of Mexico

Tonia Gebhart and Jeff Batchelor, Trader Joe’s, Morrisville, NC
Inspiration: Blue Landscape, Milton Avery

At this moment of time, we always appreciate a sunflower being used since it also represents #flowersforpeace. But what really impressed our editors were the waves and movement of this gorge arrangement to match the painting. The vase being elevated in a free-form way was just so well done. And the little tree to compliment the painting was such a nice touch. Just a happy interpretation.

Christine Reel Brander, Blooming Botanists, Clayton, NC. – Inspiration: Two Nude Figures in a Landscape, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner NMCA  sponsor: Mary J. C. Cresimore.

Our editors liked how the roses and dyed anthurium so perfectly matched the painting’s palette. Also, Christine did such a good job using raw wood for the figurines and wood frame. This is a team that clearly knows and employs color artfully.

Partha Daughtridge, Rocky Mount
Inspiration: Still Life of Fruit, Honeycomb, and Knives, Robert Spear Dunning

Doesn’t this look just dreamy? Reminds me of that moment when you have flowers spilling on a counter before an arrangement. And here this artist used bunches of flowers to mimic fruits and veggies. Such a smart pairing because flowers are the source of so many foods as we know. And look at the colors chosen. Smart to have the proteas at the end and brighter colors in the middle.

Jennifer Wood, Once Gathered, Durham, NC
Inspiration: A Celebration of India

We often see frames in modern installations but how creative to use billy buttons as part of a netting. Clever. And the addition of moss made it artistically interesting and innovative. Having tangerine and burnt orange flowers on the other side of the net in a tall vase added to the architectural intrigue.

Mia Spolan, Mrs. Nest Vintage Havetibles and Collectibles, Atlanta, GA
Inspiration: You’re Getting In Your Own Way, Shara Hughes

The next two installations won our hearts because of the way these artists interpreted modern art. First lets applaud how this artist used the swirling rows of moss in different shades to great effect. Shows how one doesn’t have to use the most expensive flowers to create drama and dazzle. Love what the artist did with that ranunculus – literally clipped it to make a square flourish. Brilliant.

Bonnie Overton, Cary, NC
Inspiration: Composition, Jean Hélion

Notice how this artist chose to use a geometric vase as part of this display? Matched the painting. Proving as we always say how important vases are for the overall look. It’s like the hairstyling for the face. Essential.

Ailsa Tessier and Jenna Fowlkes, Jansa Designs, Raleigh, NC
Inspiration: Venus Italica, Workshop of Antonio Canova

Sculpture is also an art form. These two examples were so well done. Appreciate the good choice of using glass vases. The main one with peaceful white roses and ranunculus had a hint of taupe and was modern in design. And then you see taller vases in taupe and white with just an orchid stem. Of course the marble base was inspired and shows how art is about layers. Subtle and effective.

Hospitalized Teens with support from Wonder Connection, Chapel Hill, NC
Inspiration: Fallen Caryatid with a Stone, Auguste Rodin

The wide sensual quality boatlike vase was the perfect vessel for the orange rose stripes with the purple base floral colors. The width of the arrangement also flowed with the shape of the sculptures. And those calla lilies on top were like a pretty bow on a present. An example of abundance but intrigue all in one.

Adanna Omeni, 1 Blossom 2 Bloom Floral Design, Louisburg, NC
Inspiration: The Assumption of the Virgin, Ludovico Carracci

While so many seek for free form and wild, this artist compactly created a beautiful arrangement. Check out the blue flowers to represent the sky – dyed baby’s breath, hydrangeas and delphinium stalks. Clouds are created from calla lilies shooting from the arrangements.  The base is compact using carnations, gerbera daisies and berries in such a delightful way. What a hallway design this would be.

Paula Higdon, City Garden Design, Cary, NC
Inspiration: Girl, Bob Trotman

Orchids symbolizing the upside-down man sculpture were just a fun addition. It became the focus wisely and the birds of paradise added to the jaunty smile-inducing arrangement. The choice of birds of paradise was so smart because it added color without taking away from the cascading orchids.

Susan Bain, AIFD, Robin Weir, AIFD, and Michael Whaley, AIFD, American Institute of Floral Designers, Inman, SC

Inspiration: Flowers of France

Abundance does charm. The eye went to the center with this beautiful cluster of grape and pink roses and orchids and the star lilies were fun pops of contrasting color. The eucalyptus leaves as a base for the bottom had a nice feel. Good choice as well to use pussy willow branches on top for air and modernity.

Julia Einstein, Artist Eye Design, Raleigh, NC
Inspiration: Portrait Group (Dorothy, Helen, and Bob), William Merritt Chase

The gold vase was a link to the classicism of the painting while the daisies declared the freshness and innocence of the painting’s subjects. Good choice of greenery too. Last but not least, we really appreciated the subtle nod of a painter’s paint board at the base of this creation. It says it all. Florists are artists too.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD, floral editor for Aspire Design and Home magazine, and a contributor to Florists Review magazine.

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