“Bouquets to Art” ~ what a perfect name for this highly anticipated San Francisco event, ongoing for over 30 years at the de Young Museum. A friend and I attended last week (it’s been 10 years since my last visit), and it was as exciting and overwhelming as any flower-lover or art aficionado would imagine. Filled with creative works by artists and visionaries using flowers and other living materials as their creative media, the show was far too comprehensive to chronicle in much detail, but I would like to share with you a few glimpses of my favorite creations.
This glorious show is“… an annual floral exhibition hosted by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Florists, designers and garden clubs are invited to present floral interpretations of works in the museums’ permanent collections, and the floral displays are presented in juxtaposition with the works that inspired them.”
“Bouquets to Art… at the de Young [showcases] work by over 125 of the Bay Area’s most talented and renowned floral designers. This select group of artists will display original creations ranging in style from the classical to the avant-garde. They will draw inspiration from pieces in the de Young’s permanent collections, highlighting the diverse array of works in the museum’s holdings in American art to the 20th century, international contemporary art, art of the ancient Americas and Native American art.”
Regrettably, I have to admit that most of the time I was so enthralled by the flower arrangements in the crowded galleries that I didn’t focus enough on the fine art pieces that inspired them.
Here: an antique copper bathtub (with a history I wish I knew) is filled with a lush variety of fresh blue flowers, including hydrangea, iris and blue thistle to give the impression of water, inspired by the large painting of a woman about to begin her bathing ritual.
In this next piece, the floral designer created a picture frame out of pussy willow branches in a bed of fresh flowers. It was placed so as you looked through the floral frame, the landscape painting that inspired it was framed and enhanced, adding another dimension of interest and beauty to the simple painting of a glowing sunset.
Below: This beautiful piece, an arrangement featuring hot pink peonies and drooping purple wisteria, was the perfect accompaniment to the exquisite vase of Tiffany glass that held it.
Next, some very small, intricately designed floral pieces that fascinated me ~ one an elaborate crown inspired by Queen Victoria, and the next, a small sculpture of an enchanted mermaid resting on charcoal rocks, her long hair dripping with “baby’s tears” and her body covered with scales made from another variety of succulent petals.
I loved this next one for its fanciful character! The small detail of a yellow buggy was taken from this painting and transformed into a trolley (about 16″ long) made completely of flowers, petals and pods. It seemed like a tiny float created for the Rose Parade.
Another favorite, just my style: A vintage iron garden chair draped and entwined with star jasmine vines and ivy, with a comfy-looking seat cushion made from carnations, rice flower, baby roses and other fresh materials.
A few more presentations of imaginative floral designs that seemed to capture the essence of the art pieces that inspired them:
Although I found inspiration in almost every floral creation I saw, I was most enthralled by the ones in which the floral design seemed to be a seamless part of the painting that inspired it, as if the painting had come to life in a third dimension,
allowing the viewer to experience and appreciate it in a beautiful new way.
One more perfect illustration of this is my favorite of all the designs, a “field” of fresh tulips in exuberant profusion, set in front of a wonderful painting of an endless tulip field:
If you can, I suggest you mark your calendars for early next year so you can plan a trip to experience this spectacular event.