The Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, TN, is celebrating their fortieth anniversary. Once the home and gardens of Memphis GC member Margaret Oates Dixon, the museum still has strong ties with the club. Looking at this garden feature, I refused to believe everyone who said “the tulips are mostly gone”. It was a sight for sore (or Spring-less) New England eyes!
The 2016 Memphis GCA Major Flower Show “fete joyeuse “ (Joyous Festival) was centered around and inspired by the Dixon’s permanent collection of Impressionist paintings. The sumptuously produced flower show schedule included a photograph of each painting was, as one person put it, “a coffee table book”.
There were 12 floral design classes with a total of 60 entries. The museum galleries are spacious, warm and inviting, giving this show its’ unique quality of being a continuance of the legendary hospitality of the Memphis Garden Club. Above, the Judges Challenge class was staged in front of “The Joyous Festival”, 1906, and the namesake of the show.
Classes were titled in French and English. “en plein air” was loosely translated as “The Impressionist Landscape” and featured 5 lyrical landscapes. Monet’s “The Village Street” 1869, inspired this designer to use a dramatic vertical piece of found wood and a manipulated and trimmed palm leaf as the foil for the Anthurium.
Another in this landscape class, the exquisite colors in a mix of spring blossoms evoked Pissaro’s “The View from the Artist’s Studio at Eragny” 1894. The design was created on a vertical structure of amethyst colored Lucite rods. If you look hard you can see the tops of the rods which reappeared in the design to give it a little reflected light.
“The Path to Impressionism” featured a variety of artists. The hues of sunset on the water in Boudin’s “Environs of Trouville”, 1873, were captured in this underwater design of sunny yellow orchids and a gold wire wrapped branch of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.
Don’t you LOVE how the arc of the driftwood form mimics both the curve of the tutu and the en pointe of the dancer’s pose? This striking design won the award for Best Use of Color in a class called “Ballet Class”. The painting is Degas’ “Ballet Scene” 1880.
It was interesting how much wood was used so successfully in this show. In “Post-Impressionist Landscape”, the pale driftwood and branches looked like they emerged directly on the pedestal from Soutine’s “Landscape at Cagnes”, 1922, which won the Curator’s Award.
Another innovative entry in the same class, centered on Cezanne’s “Trees and Rocks near the Chateau Noir”, 1900, used a dramatic vertical structure with clusters of bamboo and midolino sticks, plus brilliantly colored birds of paradise and Anthurium.
The Post-Impressionists energized the designers. Another in the class, Matisse’s ” The Palace Belle Isle” 1896, creatively painted wood to use with brilliant red Anthuriums and white painted and natural Bird of Paradise.