Elegant blossoms and bouquets breathed new life into the collection of artwork at the Museum of Fine Arts. The event celebrated the unique perspective flowers provide to artistic classics.
The museum hosted its 20th annual Art in Bloom event over the weekend, inviting artists to reimagine 40 works from its collection. Professional florists, hobbyists and members of the Margaret Acheson Stuart Society, a membership organization that supports the museum, submitted creative floral arrangements.
In a welcoming homage to spring, the floral arrangements made for a refreshing take for visitors to tour the standard collection.
Barbara Kirkconnell, an auditor for an art history class at USF St. Petersburg, crafted an arrangement inspired by Guillaume Voiriot’s “Portrait of Monsieur Gilbert Desvoisins, Councillor of State in Ordinary.”
She was given around 20 works to choose from and chose Voiriot’s classic portrait as her No. 1 choice. Kirkconnell, 70, said she had six weeks to create. She said she started with lace.
“I chose this piece because there is a wide variety of items to interpret,” Kirkconnell said. “You need to look for things that inspire you and that people will recognize.”
Kirkconnell said that if the viewer squints their eyes, they could see the lace in the painting first. She incorporated a similar color in the arrangement.
She has created arrangements for the annual event for the past 10 years, as part of the Garden Club of St. Petersburg. Kirkconnell said that the arrangements bring a new perspective to viewers in the museum.
“These expressions take a painting and turn it into something new,” Kirkconnell said. “Maybe it can help someone understand the work more.”
One artwork proved difficult to convey through the medium of floral arrangements. Claude Monet’s “Houses of Parliament: Effect of Fog, London” is a cascade of blue fog distorting a profile of towers in the distance.
Patricia Carey, an alumna of USF’s Tampa campus, approached her floral arrangement in a Japanese style called Ikebana. Its art form prioritizes spacing to illicit a feeling of a closeness to nature. Carey said that she had been asked by visitors how she interpreted such an impressionistic painting.
“I love impressionism, nature and soft muted colors,” Carey said. “Blue is my favorite color.”
Beginning there, she took a spathe from a coconut palm and contrasted it with dark blue magnolias. The magnolias stand vertically at varying lengths to signify the towers behind.
“I wanted to give the viewer my interpretation, and wanted them to see how I expressed myself through the work,” Carey said.
This year, Carey said she saw a lot of literal interpretations of the artwork.
She graduated USF with a master’s degree in arts. Now, she is an at-home social worker with BayCare Homecare.
Carey works with Ikebana International and attends its meetings at Chapel on the Hill in Pinellas. She took lessons in the Ichiyo style but said that there are a lot of different schools in Ikebana.
On Sunday, April 2, the floral arrangement artists stood by their creations, greeted visitors and discussed their work.
Terry Carter, from Carter’s Florist, has designed floral arrangements 35 years but has only worked for Carter’s for six months. In fact, Carter said that the owner of Carter’s name is also Terry Carter.
Carter’s floral arrangement took inspiration from James Week’s “Untitled” work. He replicated the colors and aesthetic of the work heavily.
“I shot for something that the artist would have included if he had a bigger canvas,” Carter said. The heavy pinks, white and blues stood tall and beautiful next to the painting of the bikini-clad woman and two dogs.
The floral arrangements only survive for a few days, adding to the transience and beauty of the work. For that reason, the exhibit only ran from April 1 to April 3.
The annual event has been celebrated for 20 years and consistently draws crowds of spectators excited to discuss the transition of artistic mediums.