Museum’s ‘Art in Bloom’ lunch: All for one, one floral!

Liz Farnsworth and Teresa Winslow [Photo: Kaila Jones]

A bouquet of creativity blossomed during the annual Art in Bloom Luncheon, held recently at the Vero Beach Museum of Art which included a demonstration by Greg Campbell and Erick New, co-owners of the Memphis-based Garden District.

This year’s floral designers – Sheila Barbosa, Liz Farnsworth, Inge Holland, Ann Jones, Barbara Kaytes, Lee LaPointe, Suzanne Mallory, Sharie Mortimer, Deborah Murphy, Nancy Murray, Pinkie Roe, Elaine Sigler, Ann Webber and Arun Wijetilleke – pulled out all the stops.

There was a cacophony of oohs and aahs as guests made their way through the museum, perusing 12 stunning floral arrangements which had been inspired by artwork selected by the curator from permanent museum pieces and current exhibitions.

The designers utilized the works’ color, shape and theme for their inspirations; among them, the dramatic Murano glass chandelier which hangs in the entryway of the museum, a famed Wegman pooch, a bronze sculpture and even a piece by Vero’s own Tim Sanchez.

The event first got its start more than 10 years ago, when John’s Island Garden Club members Ann Webber, Lee LaPointe and Ann Jones gave a floral arrangement demonstration. The idea took root and quickly grew; the annual event continues to support the museum’s educational outreach programs.

So popular is the spring event that the more than 400 guests dined at one of two seatings – dubbed gardenia and azaleas – with early arrivals in the great hall and the latter group in the atrium. All enjoyed a luncheon of curried chicken salad with a refreshing guava gelato parfait for dessert, catered by Elizabeth D. Kennedy & Co.

The dynamic duo from the Garden District wowed the crowd with their unique, sometimes unorthodox, design techniques. As the pair worked feverishly, they shared tips and did a floral arranging demonstration that used several items found in the produce department at the grocery store.

Somehow, however, it all came together to create spectacular displays of living art – ripe with artichokes, English peas, Brussels sprouts, radishes, button mushrooms and gala apples – oh my!

New pointed out that the euphoria flower he added to his arrangement is a member of the poinsettia family, requiring it to be handled with care.

“When working with euphoria, it’s the same thing as we’re all dealing with right now. Don’t touch your face. This is our own little virus.”

The pair chatted about the importance of the relationships they have established with flower farmers, and how fortunate they are that some have stayed in the flower market rather than the more lucrative marijuana and cocaine trade. They noted that shipments from South America arrive with large holes in the boxes, resulting from the insertion of poles to check for the telltale signs of white substances in the packaging.

Campbell and New have also co-authored a book, “Florists to the Field,” which takes readers on a journey from the Deep South to the West Coast, through the Midwest and even as far afield as Holland, to meet the families on the flower farms that inspire them.

“People always ask us, ‘When do you know when to stop?’” said New. “We tell people, ‘When you start asking yourself that question, STOP! Go in the other room, do something for 30 minutes, come back, and look at your arrangement again.’ At that point, you have fresh eyes.”

Campbell suggested to “let the flowers work for you. Bending the flowers to your will is never going to end well.”

The current exhibit, From Homer to Hopper: American Art from the Phillips Collection, is on display through May 31.

As a result of COVID-19, the museum will be closed through April 5, or as long as directed to do so. All public programs, art classes and events are cancelled at least through April 19. The April 25 Children’s Art Festival, and its related Student Art Shows, has also been cancelled.

Show Winners

Best use of Color:

  • Floral Designer: Barbara Kaytes
  • Artwork: Michael Craig-Martin, Untitled (sunglasses)

Best use of Texture:

  • Floral Designer: Nancy Murray
  • Artwork: Candida Höfer, Sankt Maximillian Düsseldorf I

Best Interpretation:

  • Floral Designer: Suzanne Mallory
  • Artwork: William Wegman, Lying Dog

Best in Show:

  • Floral Designers: Ann Jones and Ann Webber
  • Artwork: Henry Moore, Spindle Piece

Curator’s Choice Award:

  • Floral Designer: Inge Holland and Shelia Barboza
  • Artwork: Timothy Sanchez, Nexus


Photos by: Kaila Jones
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