Photos: The Making of Art in Bloom at the MFA

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Photo by Madeline Bilis

Vallery Koenig and Dana Christenson of the Provisional Garden Club of Weston work on their arrangement in front of The Passage of Delaware. Photo by Madeline Bilis

At 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning, a parade of flower-filled wagons wheeled into the Museum of Fine Arts. Heaps of orchids, roses, and ranunculus were whisked away into galleries by group after group of women. In just three hours, they’d make the flowers blossom into works of art.

From April 29 through May 1, the 41st annual Art in Bloom show will take over galleries throughout the MFA. It works like this: 50 local garden clubs are asked to create floral arrangements inspired by works of art in the museum. After receiving their art assignments, they’re given a few weeks to come up with a design. Then, they source flowers from the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea, bring them to the museum, and get to work. All 50 clubs—plus a handful of professional designers who set up outside the galleries—spend three hours bringing their art to life before the museum opens.

Designers are tasked with transporting all of their own supplies, which can include a wagon, buckets, and a mat. The only rule? No water allowed. Instead, the clubs work with Oasis: a green floral foam that supports and hydrates arrangements. Once they’re finished, a conservator inspects the flowers to ensure there are no threats to the surrounding artwork. Then the admiration commences.

“To me, it’s the most exciting creative process in the world—in a museum interpreting a museum piece,” says Betsy Currier of the Walnut Hill Garden Club in Hanover. Currier participated in the first Art in Bloom celebration more than four decades ago. Her advice to newbies? “I’ve learned that if you keep fussing at it, you stuff it.” she explains. “You gotta let it go.”

Here, get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this year’s Art in Bloom.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

The Hills Garden Club of Wellesley rolls in their flowers with a traditional red wagon.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Larger wagons tote boxes of blooms.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Teams start by binding wax at the base of the arrangement.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Betsy Currier adds a stem of clematis to her creation.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

The Garden Club of Back Bay starts with cherry blossoms in the Japanese Print Gallery.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

The Belmont Garden Club puts the finishing touches on a colorful bouquet.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Plants were laid down on mats and tarps in the galleries.

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Photo by Madeline Bilis

The Danvers Garden Club displays an arrangement topped with lotus pods.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

This arrangement imitates Jackson Pollock’s footed bowl, Flight of Man.

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Photo by Madeline Bilis

Most garden club teams are made up of two to three people.

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Photo by Madeline Bilis

Imitated works range from Dutch paintings to contemporary pieces.

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Photo by Madeline Bilis

Designers often pause to step backward and view their arrangement from afar.

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Photo by Madeline Bilis

Jamaica Plain’s New Leaf Flores builds a display in the Shapiro Family Courtyard.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

Photo by Madeline Bilis

 

Art in Bloom will be on view throughout the MFA from April 29 through May 1, 2017. See mfa.org for more information.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/2017/04/28/making-of-art-in-bloom/