I had a fabulous trip to the De Young Museum’s “Bouquets to Art” exhibit last spring. The special event in San Francisco showcases over-the-top floral arrangements inspired by a work of art on display. The inventive solutions to either the painting’s subject or its color were so fun to view there that I just had to try out the concept in Davis.
Thus, a year later, with the help of 12 artists from Northern California and a slew of local floral designers, we are unveiling the first floral art exhibit, titled “Bloom,” on view from March 7 to April 20 at the Pence Gallery, 212 D St. in downtown Davis.
Twelve artists in this two-part exhibit delve into the symbolism and form of the flower as a rich subject in their work. The exhibit includes naturalistic depictions of flora by painters Mary Warner, Ann Marie Campbell and Sandy Delehanty, which focus more on the symbolism and form of specific flowers.
Equally fascinating are abstract works by painters Elaine Bagley Arnoux, Stephen Giannetti, Shirley Hazlett and Michaele LeCompte, that hint at the potential for growth embodied by a single blossom. All of these artists share an interest in breaking down preconceived notions of what traditional flower painting should look like.
Carrie Lederer’s magical views create an Edenic interior space where birds, foliage and flowers cavort. Equally engaging are Ivy Jacobsen’s circular canvases that center on a branch silhouetted against a glowing sky. Fred Dalkey’s always-extraordinary sense of light is shown best in his drawing of a delicate bloom.
Stacey Vetter’s magnolia blossoms glow with a sense of simple beauty and grace, filling their quiet environment with strength. Brenda Louie’s long scroll painting continues her interest in capturing the ephemeral nature of the life cycle of a flower.
Beyond painting, “Bloom” offers visitors a sensory experience during the weekend of March 14-16, when art is complemented by exquisite floral arrangements by local designers Courtney Kett from Dixon Florist, Susan Bordner, Ray Borton, Ron Brown, MJ Kelly, Liz Mezger, Frankie Raymond, Nancy Roe, Pat Stromberg, Helen Tashima and Rhody Vallejo.
Beginning at 6 p.m. during our Second Friday ArtAbout reception, visitors can enjoy the sights and smells of lovely arrangements created by these talented designers to accompany specific paintings.
On Sunday, March 16, from 2 to 5 p.m., some of the magic behind the creations are display will be revealed. Watch as floral designers demonstrate how to turn simple plant materials into complicated works of living art, in response to an artist’s vision. Designer demonstrations are scheduled for 2:20 p.m. with Kett, 3 p.m. with Vallejo, 3:40 p.m. with Tashima and 4:20 p.m. with Borton.
Participating artists will discuss their artistic process during free gallery talks: Louie at 2 p.m. Warner at 2:40 p.m., Hazlett at 3:20 p.m. and Delehanty at 4 p.m.
This exhibit is sponsored by Marnelle Gleason and Lou Fox, Dick and Judy Wydick, Malcolm and Natalie Mackenzie, Rhody and Juan Vallejo, Richard and Shipley Walters, Kit and Bonnie Lam, Ronald and Rosie Soohoo and Terence Leung.
Upstairs at the Pence, we are hosting a memorial exhibit of the work of Marlene Bloomberg, titled, “Lyrical Dreams in Needlepoint,” March 5-30. Raised in France’s textile district, Bloomberg continued to use embroidery as her main medium since moving to Davis in 1966.
A dedicated volunteer at the Pence and a distinguished artist with a lengthy exhibiting history, Bloomberg died in 2013. Her surrealist style and small pointillist stitches impart an enchanting quality to her compositions.
As she wrote of her own artistic mission, “When there is a balance between emotion, shape and color, magic can emerge; and only then can one get a glimpse of the eternal triangle of truth, goodness and beauty.”
Included in this memorial exhibit covering 15 years of work are exquisite embroideries that demonstrate her deep interest in literature, poetry and film.
— Natalie Nelson is executive director and curator of the Pence Gallery. Her column is published monthly.