Monday, February 22, 2010

New York in Bloom, day three

The City of Albany's Garden Crew and the City Forester made the Sesame Street section of the State Museum's New York Metropolis hall burst with life. Detailed information about the composition of this installation wasn't available, but it is plain that the Count wants you to count the flowers.

I went back to New York in Bloom yesterday afternoon, but I didn't have the chance to post any photographs yesterday evening. However, I did want to share this last batch, which includes some truly wonderful arrangements, before returning to the workaday world of electronic records, digital preservation, and related matters.

New York in Bloom 2010 is now over, and, with the exception of a single arrangement that graces the information desk in the lobby of the Cultural Education Center, all of the flowers are gone. However, the State Museum's exhibits are still in place -- and the State Archives and the State Library, which occupy the upper floors of the building, are also waiting for you here in Albany. And, of course, New York in Bloom will return next February . . . .

A word about these photographs: they're a mere sampling of what New York in Bloom offers. There were approximately 150 arrangements at New York in Bloom this year, and a blog simply isn't suitable for posting mass quantities of photos; however, if you like what you see here, you might want to check out several great photostreams on Flickr). In addition, I somehow failed to make it into the Fire Engine Hall and some other spaces, so I didn't get to see at least a dozen arrangements. Finally, there were several stunning arrangements that photographed poorly because it was physically impossible for me to compose a good shot or because the light level was too low. (Although the State Museum allows flash photography in most -- but not all -- of its exhibit spaces, the flash distracts other visitors and as a cultural heritage professional I worry about the cumulative effect of UV light upon objects that can't be shielded.)

I started out in the Adirondack Wilderness hall so that I could photograph a few arrangements that I didn't get the chance to capture the day before, and the above arrangement is one of the reasons I went back there. Independent arrangers Stephanie Powers and Emily Pecora used carnations, delphiniums, miniature calla lilies, traechelium, flax, and curly willow to complement this portable steam engine.

One section of the Adirondack Wilderness hall is devoted to tourism. This arrangement by Mark Felthausen of Felthausen's Florist, which consists of roses, cymbidium orchids, Fiji mums, limonium, plumosa, and Swedish ivy, fits right in.

I then went into the Bird Hall, which during New York in Bloom is home to large installations that use flowers, plants, and other materials to create theme rooms. In the past, many of these installations were deliciously over-the-top; I still have fond memories of a nightclub-themed installation that was a seamless, there-are-discos-in-heaven-and-this-is-what-they-look-like meld of innocence and excess. Most of this year's installations were a lot more modest than those of past years, and I suspect that the economy is to blame. I was nonetheless pleased with most of this year's installations.

This autumnal installation by Barbara Guyette and William Guyette of W&P Enterprises has an unpretentious sort of charm. Detailed information about it's composition wasn't available.

Tammy D'Elia and Paul Goscinski of Renaissance Floral Design created this "New York in Moo" installation, which highlights the state's huge dairy industry, in the Bird Hall. It consists of hyrangea, roses, spray roses, and sunflowers.

In past years, the installations in the Bird Hall have almost typically consisted of fanciful table settings. The simple, spring-oriented installation that Douglas Fisher of Designs by Douglas created is very much in keeping with this tradition. It features pussy willow, wheat grass, narcissus, anemones, sprouts, peppers, and broccoli.

The Ancient Life of New York section of the State Museum always features interesting arrangements. Benjamin Holder of Frame of Light used equistem, fantail pussy willow, protea, leucaspernum, Scotch broom, tree fern, and other plants to create this one.

I then proceeded to the Photography Gallery, which until 14 March 2010 is home to "This Great Nation Will Endure": Photographs of the Great Depression, a traveling exhibit put together by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. It consists of prints of photographs by Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Walker Evans, and other photographers who documented the experiences of Dust Bowl migrants and other Americans for the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information. The images are stark and humbling -- anyone who compares the current economic downturn, as bad as it is, to the Great Depression is woefully uninformed -- and it's kind of ironic that some of the most arresting arrangements were placed in this section of the State Museum.

Erin Brady of Crazy Daisy created this simple arrangement of hydrangeas, fiddlehead ferns, and curly willow, which stood in front of Dorothea Lange's affecting 1939 photograph of a migrant mother and child.

This arrangement, also situated in the Photography Gallery, is one of my favorites (perhaps because it reminds me of the young Audrey II from Little Shop of Flowers). Maria Magdalena-Stone of the Bethlehem Garden Club used Oriental willow, protea, snapdragons, mostera, pittosporum leaves, and red Ti leaves to create it.

Heidi Lubherstedt-Patel of Felthausen's Florist created this arrangement, which consists of dendrobium orchids, tulips, kape, calla lilies, blackberries, hypericum, traechelium, and tropical leaves. It stands in front of yet another iconic Farm Security Administration photograph.

Linda Farrell of Frank Gallo Florist created this unusual arrangement of lilies, roses, ming fern, heather, and white birch for the Photography Gallery.

This arrangement, created by Brian Schell of Bountiful Blooms Florist, consists of ginestra, carnations, miniature calla lilies, statice, stock, miniature gerbera daisies, and honey bracelet and incorporates film stock, a camera case, and other photographic equipment.

Finally, I somehow missed this wintry, elegant arrangement of delphinium, iris, leather grass, pompass grass, gladiolas, ranaculus, and freesia the other day. It nicely complements the Skyscraper City section of the New York Metropolis hall, and I'm glad it caught my eye as I was making my way out of the State Museum yesterday. It was created by Donna M. Townsend-Hallenbeck and Ann LaChance of Sweetbriar Flower Shop, and seeing it just before I left made the transition back to an upstate New York winter more bearable.

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