By Ruth Leopold
Museum curators and floral designers have been collaborating in recent years in a project that joins the art of painting with the art of flower arranging. Museums assemble a number of paintings in their collections and floral designers choose a painting and reinterpret it in flowers and greenery. The North Carolina Museum of Art located in Raleigh has featured such a show for several years now.
Artists Susan Gaca introduced this idea to Carolina Meadows when she moved here several years ago. She had moved from Pittsburgh where members of her garden club had been invited by the Pittsburgh Museum to choose a painting and interpret it. She felt that there were many talented people at Carolina Meadows who would be able to mount such a show.
The theme chosen for the first show was “French Impressionists.” Various prints of paintings were offered and chosen by residents who then rendered them in a wide variety of blossoms and natural elements. The show was a resounding success.
Fast forward to 2019. Susan was asked if she could arrange another such show. She agreed and selected a group of paintings by American artists to be interpreted. However, Susan soon ran into a snafu when she couldn’t download prints of the paintings because of copyright issues. She called on the UNC Art Department which gave her access to the same website used by museums all over the world, a website which reproduces paintings in excellent color.
After some gentle arm twisting, Susan assembled a group of residents who each selected a painting and set about rendering the art. The day of the unveiling revealed a glorious variety of styles and colors reflecting the masterpieces that had been chosen. It’s tempting to describe all of the pieces, but that would make this blog too long. However, highlighting two of the arrangements might help to showcase the inventiveness of all the floral designs
Bonnie Fuchs set herself quite a task when she chose Stuart Davis abstract paining “Egg Beaters” to interpret. The painting features swaths of bright orange, chartreuse, yellow and black against pale blocky and angular shapes.
Bonnie chose a black basket for the base of her design with a slash of green across one corner. An orange lily, a limp orange glove and a peaked arrangement of bright tissue paper contrasted with clumps of plastic rings (more commonly used to hold packs of bottled water together) suggesting the action of beaters whipping eggs into a froth.
Elaine Norwood took a more traditional approach with her interpretation of “Joyous Island” by George Loftus Noyes. The painting of trees hanging over and reflected in a forest pool was echoed by the arrangement of light green feathery grasses, ferns and baby’s breath arching over a green container filled with dark moss. The arrangement captured the hushed depth of the pool and surrounding trees.
Everybody who took part in the show, and everybody who viewed it agreed it was well worth the effort. Artists and viewers can’t wait till next year to highlight a new group of masterpieces. The only question is,” What art works will be chosen?” Are Carolina Meadows creative types up for interpreting Michelangelo’s ceiling panels in the Sistine Chapel?