Partying With Plants: ‘Art Alive’ Soiree Is Half Flower Prom, Half Midsummer Night’s Dream

PHOTO BY RYAN BENOIT

Last Friday’s party at the San Diego Museum of Art spoke to the sensualist in us all. First, there were the visual fireworks of 103 artworks matched with 103 floral interpretations that made good use of ranunculus stems, globe thistle and naturally fluorescent king protea. There was the smell of jasmine at the top of the rotunda, and the crunch of fried lotus roots in canapés. Blasting from the DJ booth: Damian Marley. (What did we touch, you ask? Well, you know how museums feel about that kind of thing…)

We were there to celebrate the opening of Art Alive, which we previewed last week. This night, the airborne moss angel had many souls to watch over: ladies dancing with jumbo roses in their hair, men with succulent pocket flair, and yers truly ordering drinks with names like “Je T’Anemone.” The cocktails were garnished with edible flowers and sponsored by Patrón, which also provided a mirrored, mesmerizing “What Flower Are You?” installation that combined the powers of a fortune teller with the artificial intelligence of facial recognition software. More on that in a little…

The first half of the night was spent under the stars, amid a Parisian-inspired flower stand and Dutch Masters-esque photo booth just outside valet. Within the courtyard, eateries like Nobu, Café Chloe and Sea Rocket Bistro served garden-inspired bites (most memorable: the celery root puree from Market Café at Loews Coronado). The ice-sculpted bar flashed like a beacon. On the dancefloor, a DJ and drummer induced the more buttoned-up crowd to cut a rug:

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Green Fresh Florals’s pop-up shop. We felt like we’d been transported to the Left Bank!

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The hydrangeas, tulips and lilies whispered our names across the night…

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Get your picture taken in front of a Dutch Masters still-life. Love it. Just like flower prom!

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Okay, there’s a story about this outfit. C stopped by Bridget’s Blooms (also participating that night) for these lovely mokara orchids to tuck into her milkmaid braids. They were nice and hardy; they just KEPT. FALLING. OUT. All night.

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Fried lotus root and crab, courtesy of RA Sushi.

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The aforementioned celery root puree from Loews Coronado.

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Roses mingle with peonies and lilies of every stripe.

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Bartender, there’s a snap dragon in my cocktail!

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Edible garnishes included nasturtiums, snap dragons and…

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Micro marigolds in hot colors!

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Shaved fennel and beet vinaigrette got us excited about this yellowfin from Coast Catering.

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A globe of sedums, feathers, roses and thistle overlooks the dome of the Museum of Man in Balboa Park.

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“Brrr…ing me another drink, RB!”

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Palms, schefflera and ferns provide the oxygen needed to dance the night away.

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The floral contribution from Sprinkles.

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Bruise-colored delphinium sends out its feelers…

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C and her freckled mokara orchids relax on the silver disco couch.

Later we were ushered into the museum rotunda, where we got an eyeful of the heaven-and-ocean-and-earth-inspired design, an absolute stunner designed by New York-based floral designer Bella Meyer. (Who also happens to be the granddaughter of Marc Chagall.) The party transitioned into the younger, hipper “Flowers After Hours” event that included menus from Stone Brewery and Alchemy and a live performance by the Sprags.

Then we abandoned our drinks to see the floral/masterpiece pairings…

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The muse created by Bella Meyer welcomes guests into the rotunda.

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The rotunda with moss angel, baby’s breath, birch, hydrangeas, jasmine and orchids, just to name a few.

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Patrón tequila’s ingenious installation. (Although be careful following the advice that’s on the screen above.)

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The Horticult’s M.O. in a nutshell.

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An electric violin performance by the Sprags.

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More horticultural puns!

DJ The Flashdance

DJ The Flashdance came down from LA to entertain the botany buffs.

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Toe to toe with an asparagus fern.

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Then we ran into Bella herself!

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DIY challenge of the night: flower vases.

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Staffers wore roses-spiked coifs that evoked Frida Kahlo and Lana del Rey.

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Spinning by the silver spear.

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Canoodling among the birch trees.

Art Alive 2013, SDMA

Songs by Dr. Dre, the Beastie Boys and Jackson 5 get the floor moving and the plants growing.

And now, on to the art! Highlights included classical and modernist takes on calla lilies, palm leaves, aeonium and mums. Here are a few of our favorites:

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Designer: Sandy Villa
Artwork: Female Nude Reading by Robert Delaunay

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Designer: Barbara Perkins
Artwork: Young Girl in Front of a Window by Suzanne Valadon

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Designer: Olga Nazimova
Artwork: Bernadita by Robert Henri

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Designer: Dinah Brown
Artwork: In Madison Square by Guy Carleton Wiggins

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Designer: Maya Rosenblatt
Artwork: The Primal Wing by Agnes Lawrence Pelton

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Designer: Karin Kratz
Artwork: Shaded Figure by Roland Petersen

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Designer: Katherine Brozowski
Artwork: Terrace by Stuart Davis

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Designer: Addie Flynn
Artwork: Stars and Fence Forever (Homage to Jasper Johns) by Marcos Ramirez ERRE

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Designer: Brock Saucier
Artwork: Los Visitantes by Nelson Ramos

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Designer: Jackie Zhang
Artwork: Dipper Mother (Goddess With Ten Arms) by unknown

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Designer: Ken Fernandes
Artwork: Amida and Attendants With Lotus paintings by unknown

Art Alive 2013

Designer: Diana Normandin, AIFD
Artwork: Navagraha by unknown

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Designer: Marilyn M. Williams
Artwork: Tripod Plate by unknown

 

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Designer: Judy Chance, AIFD
Artwork: Coming Home Hurts by Beverly McIver

Art Alive 2013, SDMA

Designer: Lauren Jones
Artwork: The Crucifixion by Martín Bernat

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Designer: Jamie Kales
Artwork: Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine with Saints and Angels by Juan Sánchez Cotán

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Designer: Jolene de Hoog Harris
Artwork: Saint Herome by Francisco de Zurbarán

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Designer: Bridget Oleata
Artwork: Portrait of a Lady by Alessandro Allori

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Designer: Hannah Murdoch
Artwork: The Blue-eyed Boy by Amedeo Modigliani

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Yes, it was that time of the night. C scrounges for leftover corsages.

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See you at Art Alive 2014!

  • Lauren Jone’s The Crucifixion by Martín Bernat was by far my favorite. So beautiful!!!

  • Love every single bit of this (especially your shoes with the asparagus ferns!)

    • Thanks, Danielle! Gotta love ferns on the dance-flora

  • Sarah Grossman

    So glad you enjoyed…I worked so hard on that party…and i love that you featured the back of my head 🙂

    • Your event was spectacular, Sarah! Congratulations on the beautiful soiree — and your ‘do was fabu. 🙂

  • lucinda azami

    Brilliant floral by Jamie Kales–brave, bold statement on GMOS…16 people were around this piece when I was there.

    • Indeed! We ran into Jamie on the stairwell and she gave us a tour into the tiny universe that was her arrangement. She has fantastic energy, too.