Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Flowers as Art

While I was perusing fashion blogs today I stumbled upon Raf Simon's last fashion show with Jil Sander in Milan last February. What struck me was the way Mr Simon's had conceptualized the runway with "floral kiosks" as it were. I was struck by the way the flowers, designed by Marc Colle, were displayed and the play between their richness in colors and complexity of composition against the minimal elegance of the clothes. The plexi boxes which encased these elaborate arrangements confined them in another world. The effect was that of seeing the flowers as precious objets d'art and the models walking around them, wearing the beautiful minimalist and elegant Fall line, in a hypnotic march (a little Stepford Wife-like) as if the "living sculpture" didn't exist. It worked in a strange juxtaposed way, almost surreal or hyper modern. I know I'm reading a lot into it and Raf Simmon's simply wanted to create an environment that would compliment his fashions, but I think it did more than that. Seeing these Flemish inspired arrangements in as antiseptic museum like display case spoke to the lost art of Flower arranging- although it's not lost at all, it's simply not revered in the same manner as it was in those great Golden Dutch age masterpieces. Hopefully that is the direction floral design is heading again!

It has always been a fantasy of mine to have a gallery show with floral arrangements as the artwork. Mr Simons was able to capture some of this idea in his last show with Jil Sander which is probably what resonated so much with me. After all I DO believe that a finished arrangement should be a work of art. The question is really posed to those experiencing the flowers of whether a particular arrangement has succeeded in this regard. If I didn't regard every arrangement this way then it wouldn't be worth being a florist. Flowers are not the only medium I like to express myself with but they are a very important one and one which continually inspires me over and over again.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Anais Ninn

"One can only hope to capture the living moment, to capture it alive and fresh ... " Anais Ninn

All Buttoned Up

A few weeks back we had the honor to spruce up the setting for Conde Nast Achievement Awards, an event we have helped produce for the past three years. In years past the event was held at the St Regis, but this year we worked at MOMA which I have always loved working in. MOMA is an ideal platform for corporate events. The space is designed to feature artwork in a clean unfettered environment so that the work speaks for itself. I feel it accomplishes the same effect with event design. The tastemakers at Conde Nast appreciate simplicity and an austere approach to decorating events. As you know by now, my true passion lies in the chaos and imperfection of nature but I also truly enjoy delivering a restrained feel for the appropriate occasion. I guess you could say this is the Dr Jekle to our Mr Hyde- with the exception that I hope they are both loved equally. :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Old and The New

It's that time again when the remnants of last year's seedling garden are twisted around their stakes with no promise of renewal, unless of course they are torn out and used as props in a flower arrangement. My park visit earlier this week inspired me in many ways but an obvious one was the intermingling of dried vegetation with new growth. I was particular drawn to the beauty of dried vines and branches against blooms of the early spring. Yesterday I decided to harvest the dried annual vines I planted lasted year in my border garden along with their natural plant trellises made from long rose branches. Here they have been added to an elevated weeping composition and the contrast between the dead and the living materials add an earthiness which is quite naturalistic, combining accents of neutral browns and tans creating depth and complexity to the color palette as well as textural contrasts whose lines create accidental plays of movement defining the various parts of the arrangement. Nature is chaotic but not without an intrinsic geometry.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stroll Through the Park III

This time of year one sees an intermingling of the old with the new in nature. The sky was gray when I ventured to the Conservancy Gardens in Central Park this week and provided me with diffuse light adding contrast to the dried branches spied against smoky clouds. I was drawn to the skeletons of last year's brambles and branches which had no yet caught up with their budding neighbors.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stroll Through the Park II

As promised, more photos from my indulgent photo day in Central Park. Part III from this series to come. Stay posted for the darker moodier shots.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stroll Through the Park I

Yesterday was one of those beautifully overcast days made for photography and nature! I spent, what was meant to be a brief interlude, a full day being completely absorbed with this strange early Spring in Central Park. I went a little nuts- always a good thing in my opinion. The next few posts will be dedicated to what I saw there along with abstractions of light and nature. If you don't really fancy this type of thing, please forgive me for digressing into a self satisfied visual masturbation of the joy of photography but it's what I brought home for eye-tapas for the next few days. Hope you enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gray Spring Day

Here's what's left and clinging for life of a full bale of Magnolia branches brought into the studio this weekend. This variety of Magnolia actually looks crumpled and listless the moment it blossoms and that's what I love about it- the drama, the gesture. Tomorrow I will share more Magnolias from the outside world but for today I present my belles of the ball arranged in a cross hatched mess of their former branch selves. Throw in some contrasting Purple bearded iris, Frittilaria and hellebores and we have a very dramatic, one might say operatic play of shapes and color. Do I hear Arvot Part? The perfect harmonic counterpart for a gray early spring day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Sis

Today felt like the first day of Spring and it is! It is also my big sister's birthday. I decided to give her a post and make a bright Spring Arrangement for her to enjoy as her own.
I love you Alejandra!!! Happy Birthday!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

White, Gold and Violet

I spent Sunday in our sun drenched studio working on variations of this arrangement to photograph for Traditional Home Magazine. Features Editor Doris Athineos with her impeccable taste sent over a Seguso Sommerso vase which was an atypical choice for me but in the end a fun assignment. I would not have normally paired this type of loose Spring garden-style arrangement with such a modern vase but the result is both modern and romantic.
Thanks Trad Home for the shout out! I hope we can do more of these together!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

National Women's Day

I honor Meryl Streep today for standing up to create the first National Women's History Museum! For being outstanding at everything that she does and for being a self realized female who defies the place that Hollywood fixes for women simply by being a genuine artist and an honest human being. Happy Woman's day Meryl!

Women's place in history is a subject on Streep's mind of late. Her next off-screen project is theNational Women's History Museum, an entity that exists so far only in cyberspace and that the actress is trying to get erected in brick and mortar on a site adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“History until the 20th century was written by one member of the human family and it wasn’t the mother,” Streep said in a mid-December interview in New York City with her “Iron Lady” director, Phyllida Lloyd. “It was dad. That’s who wrote history and ... what was important? Movements of armies, sovereignty of nations, all sorts of things. But women were there all along and they have incredible stories that we don’t know anything about.”

Financing for the $400-million museum is being raised privately — Streep donated $1 million to the endeavor — but congressional approval is required for the location, which would place the building near institutions such as the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of the American Indian and the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial. A bill to allow the museum has passed committees in the House and the Senate and is awaiting action by the full legislative bodies.

“It’s a political football, I gather,” Streep said. “It’s a thing that everybody in Congress agrees with but then they attach it to something that no one agrees with .... It would be a beacon to women all over the world, because there really is no such museum. There are cottage museums — there’s a quilt museum, there’s a cowgirl museum.”

The normally private Streep has made herself the public face of the museum effort, hosting events and sending fundraising letters. Her participation in inspired, Streep said, by her grandmother, who lived before the passage of the 19th Amendment.

“My grandmother had three children in school and she would have to go to the golf course and get my grandfather off the ninth tee to make him go to the school board election, 'cause she was not allowed to vote,” Streep said. “She’s so vivid in my life. I think that that memory of when we were disenfranchised is important to learn.”

“There are so many great stories,” Streep said. “Every child knows the name of our first traitor, Benedict Arnold, but nobody knows the name of the first female soldier to take a bullet for the U.S., who enlisted under her dead brother’s name. Nobody knows Deborah Sampson’s name. That’s a great story. Or Elizabeth Freeman, who was the first slave to sue for her own freedom and won in Great Barrington, Mass. Every boy and girl should know these stories .... I hope we get it done.”

Deborah Sampson was born in Plympton, Massachusetts to a poor family. She was the oldest of six children. As a young girl of 8-10 years old, she was hired out as an indentured servant to Jeremiah Thomas on his farm in Middleborough, MA. She did many things on the farm like milking cows, stacking hay, feeding the animals and plowing fields as well as household chores. Most importantly, she was allowed to go to school in the winter when there was less work to be done on the farm. When she reached the age of 18, she gained her independence and worked as a teacher.

She believed in the cause of independence, and wanted to do something to help. She was taller than most women of the time and very strong from all the work she had done. Women were not allowed to join the army, so Deborah disguised herself in men's clothing and enlisted in the Continental Army under the name of Robert Shurtliff in 1782. The other soldiers teased her about not having facial hair, but they just assumed she was too young to grow a beard. She was sent to the Hudson Valley in New York where she saw action as an infantryman and was wounded twice. While laying in a Philadelphia hospital with a severe fever, a doctor discovered her true gender and took her to his home to recover. He did report that Deborah was a woman, however and she received an honorable discharge from General Henry Knox in October of 1783.

After returning to Massachusetts, she married Benjamin Gannett and they had three children. In 1790, she tried to obtain an Army pension for her service in the war. She gained the support of public leaders, most notably Paul Revere who wrote a letter to the congressman of her district, William Eustis on her behalf. (Click on "View Transcription" at the top of the window to read the transcription of the letter.) She received a U.S. pension of $4.00 a month.

Colonel John Ashley of Sheffield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, acquired Mumbet and her sister, Lizzy, from their owner, a Dutchman named Pieter Hogeboom, upon his marriage to Hogeboom's daughter, Annetje (Hannah).

The event, according to folklore, which prompted Mumbet to sue for her freedom occurred when the mistress of the house, Mrs. Ashley, attempted to strike Mumbet's sister, Lizzy, with a heated kitchen shovel in the Ashley House. Mumbet blocked the blow, but her arm was injured and she never regained its full use.

According to novelist Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Mumbet was prompted to seek freedom after hearing the Declaration of Independence spoken, and according to historian Arthur Zilversmit the people of Berkshire County then adopted Mumbet's cause to test the constitutionality of slavery following the passage of the new state constitution. Mumbet was one of the first slaves to be set free in Massachusetts and in the newly formed United States of America. She is with out a doubt the first black woman to be set free due in large part to her own determination and character. This web site is the official site for Elizabeth 'Mumbet' Freeman.

Last Year's Tendrils

You can probably guess that this arrangement is somehow related to the last post of the bouquet with "Everything I had". You're right. I reconfigured the pieces adding some to compose the aforementioned bouquet. A sprawling arrangement made in an old tarnished silver revere bowl containing dried Clematis tendrils (from last year's display), English Ivy, Pussy Willow, Delphinium, Cherry Branches, Queen Anne's lace, Skimia, Astrantia, young Parrot tulips, Poppies and Hyacinth. I'd like to see this on an escort table surrounded by assorted pewter candlesticks- maybe an old candelabra for good measure. The lost garden above is from one of my favorite garden paths at Lowther Castle in England. A tour of long lost gardens in Europe is in the works!