Exploring nature’s creative connection

By Jan Leitschuh

Springtime is a celebration of creation. The birds and the bees get that.

So do artists — and florists.

Got a bad case of spring fever? Looking for a vernal vibe? Seeking some free flower arranging inspiration for your home, or maybe some centerpiece ideas for your next bash?

You can inhale a little color and beauty at the end of March with “Blooming Art,” the inaugural Sandhills festival of art and flower arrangements, at the Campbell House in Southern Pines, March 30-31, with a special gala reception the evening of the 29th.

The creative premise is simple: Take a piece of art, any art — painting, pottery, sculpture, even a hanging quilt — and use that as a jumping-off point for an arrangement, floral interpretation and inspiration.

Sponsored by the Garden Club of the Sandhills, over 20 floral masterpieces will be displayed. “The Garden Club of the Sandhills looks forward to our exhibit of ‘Blooming Art’ as an opportunity to share with the community a passion for horticulture in the form of interpretative floral designs,” says club President Linda Lindsey.

While the interpretive florals are inspired mainly by the works of predominantly local artists, a few interesting pieces from private collections will be featured. Taking their inspiration from their particular assigned piece of art, the florists represent both top area design professionals as well as talented area garden club members. Once assigned a piece of art, the flower arrangers fashion their vision of the artwork in natural materials.

“This is not a professional show and will not be judged, but is rather an expression of our love for nature in its many forms, and an opportunity to share this passion with the community,” says Lindsey.

Interpreting art via flowers is a growing gallery trend because, let’s face it, who couldn’t use a little lift of beauty at winter’s end? Come springtime, art galleries worldwide sponsor similar floral interpretive exhibits, both to highlight their collections and draw visitors.

“Blooming Art” is the local Sandhills twist. While the Campbell House exhibit echoes the enormously popular “Art in Bloom” annual event at Raleigh’s North Carolina Museum of Art, there’s one essential difference: intimacy.

While the Raleigh exhibits are often wonderfully vast, fantastical, museum-scale and institutionally grand, the Campbell House’s “Blooming Art” program will feature many intimate pieces that might actually find themselves onto one’s dining table or front hall entrance.

“We hope that people attending will be inspired to create arrangements for themselves, after seeing what others do with simple greens from the garden, natural materials like sticks or pods, and flowers you might get at the supermarket or farmers market,” said Hartley Fitts of the “Blooming Art” steering committee.

The florists use the assigned art as a springboard for an arrangement. “You start by getting to know the art you are going to interpret,” says Carol Dowd, a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers, owner of Botanicals, and a five-year veteran of the prestigious Raleigh museum show. Dowd’s work will also be featured in the Campbell House program. “You ask yourself questions about the art such as color, lines, shapes and theme, do some research on the artwork. This may inspire you to look at the artist and artwork differently than you had originally thought. In a museum or gallery, you also need to know the parameters that you will be designing under, such as, what size does this need to be, what flowers can I use that will last as long as it is on display?”

Ultimately, the florists create their own story reflecting the art. “All these different elements need to be worked out, but doing interpretive design is so enjoyable,” says Dowd. “From the discovery of the art to working out the final design, it challenges you as a designer, and it is always fun to share your designs and your joy of flowers with the public.”  PS

“Blooming Art” will open with an evening reception at the Campbell House, 482 E. Connecticut Ave, Southern Pines, on March 29, 6-8 p.m. The open exhibition is Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday, March 31, from 1-4 p.m. Tickets are $50. To purchase tickets contact Marilyn Grube at (910) 420-2062.

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