Art in Bloom 2024

A Double Whammy of Art and Nature

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Spring has sprung and the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown St. Pete celebrated last week with its annual Art in Bloom, an exhibit that blends art and nature – floral interpretations inspired by masterpieces from the museum’s collection.

Designer Stephanie Anderson, Delma’s Flower Booth, 20th Year, St Petersburg

It was the 27th edition of artistic work that brings together a diverse array of floral designs crafted by a mix of seasoned professionals, talented hobbyists and members of The Margaret Acheson Stuart Society – a separate nonprofit organization that supports the Museum of Fine Arts.

Designer Juliet Wilks, EPI Inc., 2nd Year, Brandon. Inspiration – “I am a beekeeper and this looked liked something my bees would make. Without bees there would be no flowers.”
Groundless, 2023 – by Brookhart Jonquil, American, b. 1984

The four-day show was presented April 4-7  by the Society with this year’s co-chairs Donna Mainguth and Rebecca Malowany and is an all-time “fan” favorite event for Museum members.

“Art in Bloom invites visitors on a captivating journey where our galleries and gardens blossom into vibrant showcases of color and creativity,” says Darcy Schuller, MFA Chief Strategy Officer. “It’s a spectacular way to bring art and nature together.”

In the Buddhist Art Wing by Designer Patricia Carey, School of Ichicoro Ikebana, 7th Year, Tampa.

The process starts with the museum curator selecting specific artworks throughout the museum. Each floral designer submits their preferred choice of artwork for interpretation – this year the group included 41 professional florists, members of garden and ikebana clubs, and novice flower arrangers.

Designer Susan Thorpe, Ikebana International Chapter #65, 10th Year, Clearwater. Inspiration – “I love antique furniture but can you ignore the wallpaper?”
Parlor Cabinet, 1872 – by an anonymous American artist (possibly Pottier & Stymus or the Herter Brothers)

The exhibit of flowers all over the museum is a delightful, sensory experience with the scent of lilies, roses and orchids wafting through the air.

Blooms are displayed in almost every area in the museum including Café Clementine – Designer Blue House Florals, Tampa

Some of the floral arrangements mirror the masterpiece selected by the designers – some are not as obvious. In those cases, the designer describes their emotion and inspiration.

What is interesting is the interpretation, be it literal or imagined.

Designer Cassie Osterloth, Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft, St. Petersburg, 27th Year. Inspiration – “After 27 years, I am drawn to new or loaned pieces in the MFA Collection to design as a first impression.”

Among the “wonderland” of floral exhibits. . .

Designer Karen McKenna, Garden Club of St. Petersburg
Portrait of a Man, c. 1650 – Unknown Artist, possibly active in Florence, Italy
Designer Kenneth Kesty, St. Petersburg Skin and Laser, Rookie – First Year. Inspiration – “Honoring the diversity of human lives, human craft and nature’s bounty.”
Leviathan Zodiac (World Stage: Israel), 2011 – by Kehinde Wiley, American, b. 1977
Designer Gretchen Ward Warren, Ikebana International Chapter 65, 6th Year, St. Petersburg. Inspiration – “Light! It was the artist’s depiction of heavenly light radiating down upon the three blessed figures that inspired my choice of branches and white flowers above the soft glowing colors below.”
The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine, 1620 by Fabrizio Santafede, Italian, 1560-1635
Designer Linda Urell, Ichicoro Ikebana, 5th Year, Bradenton. Inspiration – “Combination of elegance and masculinity.”
Designer Jeanne Houlton, The Stuart Society and Ikebana International, 26th Year, St. Petersburg. Inspiration – “Lots of movement in this painting. The vigor and drive in the painting.”
Arabs Charging through a Forest Path, 1861 – by Eugéne Fromentin, French, 1820-1876
In the MesoAmerican World Wing – Designer Jennifer Katzenstein, Rookie – First Year, St. Petersburg. Inspiration – “I chose this piece because I was intrigued by the ritual it represents. I have visited the area and have seen the ruins of this ancient culture. I was hoping to reflect the cultural tradition that this piece represents in my floral work.”
Standing Female Figure with Wrap-Around Skirt, c. 200-500, Veracruz, Mexico
Designer Betty Call, Lakewood Ranch Garden Club, Bradenton
Seated Couple, c. 100-250, Nayarit, Mexico
Designer Sarah Ruehmann, Live Toad Enterprises, Rookie – First Year. “Blood. Although this is my first year at the MFA, I’ve participated in Art in Bloom in Minnesota.”
Designer Christopher Gonzalez, Mona’s Floral Creations, 2nd Year, Tampa. Inspiration – “Height, lines, city, concrete jungle.”
Cityscape with Sun, 1927 – by Squire Joseph Vickers, American, 1872-1947
Designer Nancy Steinbuechler, Garden Club St. Petersburg, 2nd Year, Seminole
Man of Visions, 1981 – by Howard Finster, American, 1916-2001
Designer Joni Gaines, Rookie – First Year, St. Petersburg. Pictured with Seneca VII, 1973 by Ludwig Sander, American, 1906-1975
Designer Rachel Russell DeVicente, The Stuart Society, Rookie – First Year, St. Petersburg. Inspiration – “As a rookie, I was drawn to the simplicity in the lines. The challenge was a vertical and water-tight presentation to keep the flowers alive four days while ensuring it wouldn’t leak. The solution. . . a framed medicine cabinet lined with roofing tape on a 15-degree tilt.”
Angkor Wat, 1963 – by Enrico Donati, American, b. Italy, 1900-2008
Designer Ian Prosser, Botanical Design Studio, 7th Year, Tampa. Inspiration – “The gold branches represent the embroidery on her gown. The white flowers are the soft fabric and the teal is the sash on her gown.”
Julia Foster Ward, 1880 – by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, French, 1836-1911
Designer Patricia Strawn, Garden Club of St. Petersburg, 11th Year, St. Petersburg. Inspiration – “Hunting was always a part of our family growing up. I think of my grandparents in this painting.”
Dr. James Brown Returning from the Hunt, 1860 – by Daniel MacNee, Scottish, 1806-1882
Designer Dorothy Shuman, Belleair Garden Club, Rookie – First Year. Inspiration – “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, Joy follows like a shadow that never leaves” – Buddha
Designer Lucy Watkins, Florafete Bouquet Bar, St Petersburg, 2nd Year. Inspiration – Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s Wedding in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Georgian Era Romance
Designer Alexia Jack, Carrollwood Florist, Rookie – First Year, Tampa. Inspiration – Portrait of a Young Woman, 1645 by Pieter Duyfhuysen, Dutch, 1608-1677
Designer Yulia Lysova, Molly Flowers & Decor, Rookie – First Year, North Miami. Inspiration – “The main key of creating a floral arrangement was to beautifully complement the Zuni vase and serve it as a meaningful tribute to their culture, reflecting aesthetic elements of the Zuni tradition.”
Water Jar, c. 1900 – by an Unknown Artist, Zuni People, American Southwest
Designer G. Monique Noujaim, Ikebana International, 25th Year, Pinellas Park. Inspiration – “Dried Palm, devil’s backbone, white flowers for the Han Dynasty Horse.”
Designer Kali Rabaut, Blue House Florals, Rookie – First Year, Tampa


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