Wow, a whole year has passed since I had an amazing opportunity to volunteer to participate and compete in the "Art In Bloom" event at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, known locally as the GRAM. Each participant is assigned a monetary stipend to cover costs and a picture of your piece of art to be inspired by. Now mind you this covered from art portraits, to landscapes, to abstract paintings but also from wrought iron, furniture or physical pieces of art too like a chair.
I think all of the 20 or so participating floral designers can all say that regardless of the art piece we were assigned we all had a challenge to face personally with what we were going to create from inspiration piece. Some interpretations were quite literal replications, some more abstract and others a design focus interpretation mimicking shapes or colors used. I knew whatever I created it must make a statement! Which my floral design certainly did!
My assignment ended up being a portrait called "Lady in Opera Cloak" by William Merritt Chase. I no joke had the initial reaction was, "what the hell am I supposed to do with flowers and a women in a coat... like seriously." What doesn't challenge us makes us comfortable, so with my lady in her cloak I brainstormed for 3 weeks thinking what in the world could I possibly create inspired by Chase's Lady.
The top 2 ideas was Option A, doing a literal take on the portrait by making a physical almost life like sized coat out of all florals and foliages to mimic her fur + feather cloak. I was thinking, the lady in current day wasn't still around but her coat could be. Then Option B, was more of a personal interpretation of color pantone + shaping. The day before my entry I walked into the wholesaler, purchased everything by hand chosen by color pantone being in a blush + ivory tones have a ruffle or feather "soft looking" quality to it for my lady's curvature in the design and a burgundy, burnt red backdrop like the portrait with some hints of a golden, nude color to pick up the ladies skin tone color.
It wasn't until I was at the wholesaler, picking out product that my gut feeling spoke to me that I had to play on color and shape in a romantic European inspired design and hoped that the judges and viewers would comprehend and understand my vision. Luckily, my husband agreed the more unique and original idea was Option B, so B it was! The evening before entering my design I processed and hydrated all of my blooms so they could be strong and healthy, because your design is only as strong and as beautiful as your product is! The only designing I did that night, was adding most of the background burgundy hues for shaping and mapping out my design.
The next day on Friday morning, I went to town designing! Did I mention I am a contemplative procrastinator. I like having as much time as possible to visually create and think about the design and then perfectly execute it! Also, I love designing under pressure because that is when I have peak performance. It may be a bit too much to share, but I believe in complete honesty and we all have different work types for peak performance. So I designed the morning away singing, drinking coffee, designing with occasional little excited dancing moments too. (Which is what I do when I really happy and excited!)
My showy floralscape was approximately 4 feet tall x 4.5 foot wide. Which doesn't seem too large until carrying or transporting the design from our apartment studio to the GRAM. Luckily my husband telecommutes on Fridays, and I was able to have him drive me during his lunchtime so I could sit in the back seat with my design straddled between my legs and arms so there was no moving or tipping during transportation.
Once arriving to the GRAM, I was exhilarated with excitement, fear, little adrenaline and intrigue. It was the moment to see my muse of art in person and to scope out what all the other designers had already entered. We all had different delivery scheduled times and since mine was in the afternoon over half of the entries were already installed. Once at my pedestal, where the design is showcased I started to feel like I really could have a shot at this!!! On site I had to add in my tallest and most lowest floral pieces because they weren't going to make the design fit in the car if I added them in ahead of time. So the final burgundy foliages, golden hued plumes and white phaleanopsis orchids were added in and the design was placed on it's pedestal.
Then, I said goodbye to my blooming beauty and went home for some food! Then I proceeded to get dolled up for that evenings opening reception for designers and their families at the GRAM. Once the evening was approaching, my hubby Aaron and I headed downtown for the nights events! We were met by my Parents and my Father In Law and his Girlfriend. There was a strolling bar so we started out with a round of drinks and then headed up stairs to look at every Art In Bloom entry! In the middle of discussing, socializing and meeting other designers and seeing their work we missed the judges announcements on the main floor in the auditorium.
My kind floral friend, Hayley Hungerford found me to tell me Congratulations. Hayley, was actually the reason why I was even contacted to participate. Thank goodness for kind floral friends like Hayley! Anyhow, back to the story, of course I responded by saying " Congrats, To what?", her response was, "To winning silly! You tied for 1st place!". Then a second later my mother screamed in the middle of an art gallery, yes , screamed! If you know my mother, that is the exact reaction I would've known she would have done, but I wasn't expecting to win so it wasn't even a thought until she was screaming and yelling "Whoo- Hooo!!! My daughter won! Woo!" I love my mom and her fearlessness to act or say exactly what she is feeling at that spontaneous moment, lol! We found the director, Marnie and she congratulated me and said later we would have discuss about my prize! I tied for 1st Place Judge's Award, which was a rare thing to tie!
That weekend, my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin visited town and came to walk thru the museum the next day with me and my husband. We totally played it , nonchalantly so that they could be surprised that I won! My guess, is that they were wondering that I didn't place because I didn't mention anything to them until we cam to my piece. Then they got to see the Judge's 1st Place Award attached to the pedestal. Afterwards, we went to grab some grub at Bombay and celebrated with cupcakes from The Salted Cupcake that they picked up on their arrival into town.
To end the weekend, Sunday was the final day of activities and because I couldn't stay away my hubby tagged along again with me to the GRAM for the last day. We were there walking around listening to the live music they featured on Sunday with announcements to follow. So we walked around upstairs strolling, viewing everyone's work and listening to the music and a live tour discussing the pieces of art and pointing out different artful tactics each florist used in their designs. The tour guide saw my badge and asked if I could talk to the group about my piece, which was fun and a bit on the spot but I loved to see the genuine interest, passion and curiosity the art and designs created within everyone! Then we headed downstairs for announcements. I got to actually hear my winning announcement this time as a 2nd Place People's Choice winner!
What's funny, is that I even picked out the 1st Place People's Choice design, because I loved their calla lilly technique, it was gorgeous! Then, we called it a day and grab a nice coffee and went home with such a fulfilling and surprising weekend! I went in thinking, I wont win but I will have fun and make a unique design for me and maybe get a little exposure for it to attendees to see Fleurology Designs and what I was capable of. Needless to say, I cannot wait to participate in Art In Bloom, 2019! Always remember that whatever you do, don't be afraid of that fear or challenge and always remember to have fun! You may surprise yourself, and what you are truly capable of when you love what you do and are truly in your element!!!
Have a lovely weekend,
Photography by Christina Leskovar Photography - http://www.christinaleskovarphotography.com/
Featured in Cultured.GR - https://cultured.gr/fleurology-designs-sweeps-art-in-bloom-awards-at-gram-d7b3ea0352cf
Hosted at GRAM- http://www.artmuseumgr.org/