Beaux Arts Bouquets, The Walters Art Museum

Art Blooms at the WaltersFor twenty-four years, The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore MD has welcomed Spring with “Art Blooms”.  This weekend the 19C galleries on the fourth floor were the setting for inspired floral designs matched with paintings and sculpture.  It was my privilege to be the speaker for the event – my own Rosamund Bernier moment!

Museum artThe Walters is the gem of Baltimore.  Founded by Henry and William Walters, it houses a collection of great depth and interest.  I was asked to talk about interpreting art with floral designs.  I trolled the excellent museum website for paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts that would inspire me and create a variety of ideas for the program.

containers Containers were sourced for the art.  The tall iridescent container on right is from Pier One.  It was perfect for the “Maiden, Monkey and Mango Tree” sculpture.  The celadon boat-shaped container spoke to “Xanthe & Phaon”, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

setting upWednesday, my order of beautiful flowers arrived from the generous folks at Potomac Wholesale Flowers. They were so accomodating and had great variety.   I arrived with all the rest.  We set it up on the stage to begin to plan the space.

InterruptionUnfortunately, the stage was needed at midday on Thursday so all hands on deck came and shoved all to the side for the lunchtime lecture program!

Mainstage at WaltersBy showtime on Friday, all was serene.  Here is the setup, with moi hovering in the back on right.  The screen showed each art image on the left, with on the right, a live feed of all the arrangement details as I worked.

paper disguiseI finished each design completely from the front and then turned their backs to the audience.  KP and MC, my invaluable right and left hands, created paper designs to mask the oasis on the back of each arrangement.  Much more festive than empty oasis blocks.  Maybe we’ll start a new trend for finishing backs with paper!

fruit and maidenWe were challenged to get photos of the finished arrangements before the stage was full of people all wanting to do the same thing!  The Maiden was interpreted with Harry Lauder Walking Stick plus Leonides rose, mango and Schwartzwalder callas, a mini hand of banana, anjou pears, chocolate anthurium and leucadendron.  The voluptous sandstone sculpture inspired the use of the curves of the fruits and the roses and callas were in the colors of the container.

Rhuana roses“Twelve Months of Fans” as well as an image of Monet’s “La Japonaise” from the Metropolitan Museum of Art are the inspiration for this design.   In the latter image, Camille Monet is almost subsumed by a brilliant red kimono.  There are many fans in both works of art.  The beautiful rose is called ‘Rhuana’.  Verticality is achieved by gladiola, some of which are inside the glass vase.

agapanthus and sunflowersThis is a close-up of a design in a container covered with artist’s papers.  The painting is Joan Mitchell’s “Sunflowers” in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.  This painting is mostly blues and blacks.  I have used the sunflowers without their petals, rolled ti leaves, callas, agapanthus in light blue with pincushion protea which sing with color.

Woodville paintingIn the lobby near the entrance to the theater stands a large mural of “The Sailor’s Wedding” by Baltimorean Richard Caton Woodville.  These are three different interpretations whose designers chose colors and textures that appear in the painting.

Sailor's wedding vasesI took a more modern, deconstructed approach.  The containers are painted with the diaper pattern of the wallpaper in the painting.  Bride and Groom, left and right.  He, tall with his blue coat and red hair = cherry branches and leucadendron.  She, shy and demure, Vendela roses and tuberoses, which were rather droopy like the bride!

blooming cart“Blossoming Cherry Trees” is a Momoyama era screen, one of a pair.  This design in a bamboo cart brought back from Japan and uses cherry branches, parrot tulips, broom, cream carnations and seeded eucalyptus.

Next time, part two. Thanks to Jane and Cres for the photographs!  Stay tuned.  Cheers!



About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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