Night at the Museum: Dancing With Plants and Paintings at ‘Art Alive’

PHOTOS BY RYAN BENOIT

Last weekend Art Alive happened — and to kick things off, Ryan asked if I would be his date to the plant prom. The party (alright, officially known as Bloom Bash) was thrown last Friday to celebrate San Diego Museum of Art’s annual show; in its 33rd year, the four-day event featured 120 floral interpretations of famous works of art.

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It was a thrill to see how everything came together after our preview. The interpretations — by floral designers both studio-affiliated and non — were flights of inspiration, with approaches ranging from representative to abstract to tongue-in-cheek. Art Alive’s petal provocateurs married orchids with Dalí, giant agave stems with Alexander Liberman, tufts of baby’s breath with Diego Rivera. Also, Carlos Franco’s rotunda was a jasmine-scented (and olive tree-lined) ode to Alhambra.

As for the party? Mmm, as for the party…Like last year, many of the Patrón cocktails were perked up with edible flowers; we kept reordering the strawberry/basil mule and a daisy-topped elixir with prickly pear puree. Served throughout the courtyard and recently renovated sculpture garden, bites were the work of Café Chloe, Saltbox, Barrio Star and Great Maple (to name a few), which we enjoyed while gazing into longest foosball table we’ve every seen.

The crowd was stylish, headpieces were exuberant with roses, and the dancefloor was packed by the end of the night. Vintage Michael Jackson, Sugarhill Gang and Gwen Stefani got people moving and all the plants growing.

Check out our favorite 25 art/plant interpretations — and catch some of the disco fever(few) — below!

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Sarah Grossman, Manager of Special Events at the museum, dazzled with a headpiece filled with peonies, roses, billy balls, lilies and mums.

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The strawberry-basil mule (left) and the Gone Daaaiiiisy cocktail pointed us to the dancefloor…

Art Alive dancefloor

Plants party USA.

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From Solterra Winery & Kitchen, chilled carrot soup with poached bay shrimp and chilies.

Saltbox

Avocado chilled soup with dungeness crab from Saltbox.

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Restaurants from around San Diego County served bites in the newly renovated sculpture garden.

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Artist Danny Scheible created marvels with masking tape (Tapigami) for the event.

Tapigami archway by Danny Scheible

A Tapigami archway by Danny Scheible adorns the entrance to the party.

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Scheible’s masking tape globes brought warm lighting to the courtyard.

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Another installation, this with textile-covered hangers, by Danny Scheible.

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Back in the museum’s rotunda, waterlilies burst from the fountain.

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The Alhambra-inspired rotunda — designed by Carlos Franco of Green Fresh Florals — joined bushels of roses with date palms, bougainvillea, olive trees and topiary.

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Chrysanthemums and de-petaled gerbera daisies create a Moroccan-inspired pattern.

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Special thanks Lauren Fimbres Wood and to lead gallery attendant Austin for allowing us to photograph the floral interpretations this year! We toured the exhibition last Thursday just after the pieces were placed by the artists. (Artists were only allowed twenty minutes to install their displays.) The 25 floral interpretations that follow especially charmed us this year.

Which one’s your favorite?  

—TH

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Marilyn M. Williams, Bridge & Bay Garden Club of Coronado — floral interpretation of “Portrait of a Man” by Sebastiano del Piombo.

Patsy Eppler, Green Gardens - Apollo and Daphne, Veronese (Paolo Calari)

Patsy Eppler, Green Gardens — floral interpretation of “Apollo and Daphne, Veronese” by Paolo Calari.

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Valli Reed, Ichiyo School of Ikebana — floral interpretation of “Kneeling Angel,” Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli.

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Grace Fox of White Lotus Event Productions — floral interpretation of “Saint Nicholas of Bari” by Giovanni Bonsi.

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Jolene De Hoog Harris of The Dutch Flower — floral interpretation of “The Young Shepherdess” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

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Thomas Bui and LaVonne Crawford of Thomas Bui Lifestyle, LLC and Adorations Botanical Artistry, floral interpretation of “The Molo from the Basin of San Marco, Venice” by Canaletto.

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Donna McLee, floral interpretation of “Etienne-Rene, Cardinal Potier de Gesvres” by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni.

Travis Rogers

We ran into Travis Rogers of Green Fresh Florals while he was installing his interpretation (and taking break from the final rotunda preparations). Travis points out the tillandsia air plants he used — and painted! — for his piece. The big one is a T. xerographica.

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Travis Rogers of Green Fresh Florals — floral interpretation of “Signs of Our Times” by Hans Gustav Burkhardt.

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Elena Andrews, AIFD of Inn Florals at Rancho Bernardo Inn — floral interpretation of “Untitled” by Karl Stanley Benjamin.

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Brock Saucier — floral interpretation of “Specter of the Evening” by Salvador Dalí.

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Kimberly Buffington of Flowerchild — floral interpretation of “Portrait of Monsieur Monteux” by Pierre Bonnard.

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Roxana L. Heinz — floral interpretation of “Portrait in Grey and Black” by Eduard Jean Steichen.

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Lora Lemus, Neiman Marcus Visual Presentation — floral interpretation of “Portrait of Mildred Myers Oldden” by Alice Neel.

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Bridget Oleata of Bridget’s Blooms — floral interpretation of “Still Life Synchromy With Nude in Yellow” by Morgan Russell.

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Hannah Murdoch of Cuyamaca College Botanical Society — floral interpretation of “Female Nude Reading” by Robert Delaunay.

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Tish Toy, Neiman Marcus Visual Presentation — floral interpretation of “Lion Cannoneer” by Otto Dix.

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Hiroko Schofield of the Ohara School of Ikebana, Sakura Group, international chapter — floral interpretation of “Bouquet” by Henri Matisse.

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Katherine Brozowski of Wild Orchid Florist — floral interpretation of “Mandragora” by Diego Rivera.

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Keiko Schneider of Ikenobo School of Ikebana — floral interpretation of “White Vulture With Black Tail Feathers Standing on a Grass Tufted Plain” by Unknown.

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Marissa White, CFD — floral interpretation of “Torso of a Bodhisattva” by Unknown.

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Alice Harmon of the Village Garden Club of La Jolla — floral interpretation of “Kilauea Caldera, Sandwich Islands” by Jules Tavernier.

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Kristine del Mundo Sanchez — floral interpretation of “Descent of Buddha Amitabha (Amida Raigo)” by Unknown.

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Carvill Veech of Crown Garden Club of Coronado — floral interpretation of “Camel” by Unknown.

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Michael Bliss and Maurice Taitano, the Urban Seed Home and Garden Boutique — floral interpretation, “Aim I,” Alexander Liberman.