Monday, February 27, 2012

New York in Bloom wrap-up

New York in Bloom, the annual fundraiser for the New York State Museum's after-school programs, ended yesterday afternoon. All of the arrangements were dismantled yesterday evening, and State Museum staffers and the Cultural Education Center's security and building operations staff worked feverishly to prepare the State Museum for its reopening at 9:30 AM this morning. When I walked into the Cultural Education Center, which also houses the State Archives and the State Library, this morning, I didn't see a single trace of New York in Bloom.

I'm going to share a few more photographs of New York in Bloom 2012 before I get back to business as usual around here. I hope you've enjoyed getting the chance to look at the flowers -- a rare thing in New York in February -- and the exhibits that my colleagues at the State Museum have created.

The Bird Hall, which connects Metropolis Hall and Adirondack Hall, features select examples of the State Museum's vast collection of biological specimens. During New York in Bloom, the Bird Hall is home to what our Governor's significant other would call "tablescapes" -- arrangements of items that create vignettes.

The tablescape created by Douglas Fisher of Designs by Douglas features an appealingly simply arrangement of pear blossoms and spider mums.

Craig Waltz Jr. of Fleurlite Floral Designs created a lush tropical tables cape that features hala, phalaenopsis orchids, heliconia, eccheveria, roses, palm leaves, and ivy.

Here's a closeup of the arresting centerpiece.

Barbara Guyette, Charles Guyette, and Linda Savage of All the Right Ingredients created this Beatrix Potter-ish Easter tablescape, which features fleurette mums, roses, spray roses, statice, German statice, mini carnations, alstromeria, spider mums, leather leaf fern, cedar, and pine.

The Crossroads Gallery sits immediately to the south of Metropolis Hall and is used for small temporary exhibits. During New York in Bloom, it was home to Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam, which featured graffiti drawn on the canvas bunks of the General Nelson M. Walker, a ship that was used to transport soldiers to Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. The voyage to Vietnam took several weeks, and bored, anxious, and seasick soldiers, most of whom were only 19 years old, found that drawing on the bunks was one way to pass the time. The bunks were rediscovered by chance in 1997, and when the ship was scrapped in 2005, the Vietnam Graffiti Project salvaged them and created this traveling exhibit, which until yesterday could be seen at the State Museum.

Christopher Grigas of Hidden Gardens used calla lilies, roses, spray roses, protea, and carnations to create an arrangement that looks like a watery reflection of the life preserver in the exhibit's graphics.

At least some of the men on the ship were from New York State.

An arrangement of roses, seeded eucalyptus, amaryllis, succulents, dubium stars, skimmer flowers, green trick dianthus, cymbidium, and parrot tulips complements life jackets taken from the General Nelson M. Walker. It was created by Marilyn Cederoth of Cedarfarm Wholesale.

I really like this arrangement, which was created by Karen Bucholsky of the Greenport Garden Club and consists of hypericum, agonies, thistle-eryngium, ranunculus, leucadendron, Oriental white lily, Irish, and pussy willow. It brings to mind sea grasses.

Until 31 March 2012, the Photography Gallery features Shadow and Substance: African-American Images from the Burns Archive, which features 113 images portraits, snapshots and photographs documenting industries, properties, and events related to African American history from the mid-19th century to the present day.

In past years, the Photography Gallery has been home to numerous New York in Bloom exhibits. This year, it was home to only one: this elegant composition of roses, mini carnations, galas leaves, and moss created by Michelle Peters of Ambiance Floral Design.

The Exhibition Hall is also home to a wide array of temporary exhibits. At present, it features From the Collections, an exhibit that highlights the State Museum's vast holdings of natural science, history, and anthropology artifacts. I enjoyed this exhibit even more than I initially thought I would, and I encourage you to see it if you find yourself in Albany before 30 April.

This arrangement is actually part of a cluster of arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, and pussy willow that Christine Colpoys of Seagroatt-Ricciardi created to complement the vintage automobile that sits at the exhibit's entrance. (Note the rearticulated mastodon skeleton in the background: Exhibition Hall sits next to a permanent Ancient Life in New York State exhibit.)

This eye-catching arrangement of king protea, wax flower, sago palm, and cactus bones is one of my favorites. It was created by Mary Aiko Bohnet of the Capital District Sogetsu Study Group.

Erin Brady's simple composition of quince, green trick, reindeer moss, and river rocks harmonizes perfectly with a display of Shaker furniture.

This arrangement is another favorite. Unfortunately, its label disappeared sometime before I made it to the Exhibition Hall. I recognize some of its components (monstera leaves, lilies, aspidistra) but not others. The coats on display, all of which either contained the fur of endangered species or otherwise violated federal wildlife protection laws, were seized at John F. Kennedy International Airport by U.S. Customs Officials in 1972. After their investigation ended, Customs officials gave the coats to the New York State Office of General Services (OGS), which, among many other things, oversees the disposition of surplus state government property. OGS then transferred them to the State Museum.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New York in Bloom, day three

Today was the last day of New York in Bloom, the New York State Museum's annual after-school program fundraiser. I wasn't able to spend as much time at the State Museum as I initially hoped -- life has a way of getting in the way -- but I did get to see all of the arrangements before they were taken down.

Today's post will focus on the Adirondack Hall, which is roughly equal in size to Metropolis Hall and is home to a number of permanent exhibits. I'm a little pressed for time this evening, so I'll create a separate post tomorrow to highlight some of the arrangements in the Bird Hall and temporary exhibit spaces.

The State Museum's western entrance features a huge relief map of New York State, and Margie Amodeo of Emil J. Nagengast Florist used tee pee, lemon leaf, Italian ruscus, bear grass, stock, Siberia lilies, and larkspur to create an arrangement that complements it perfectly.

Many of the exhibits in the Adirondack Hall focus on the region's natural resources. This logging display is enhanced by an arrangement of green hydrangea, white wax flower, pink heather, sweet William, fern, Norfolk Island pine, sheet moss, and branches created by Brian Schell of Bountiful Blooms Florist.

Part of a large Botanic Studio installation of bowls of succulents and bromeliads and glass terrariums housing a wide array of plants. This installation was a real crowd-pleaser; sadly, owing to the level of ambient light, I couldn't get a good picture of it in its entirety.

Audrey Hawkins of the Fort Orange Garden Club used hypericum berries, leucadendron "Safari Sunset," French heather, pincushion protea, solidago, alstromeria, and painted foliage to create a dramatic arrangement that complements the portable steam engine that sits at the outer boundaries of the logging exhibit.

Some of the arrangements in the logging section harmonize beautifully with the State Museum's permanent installations. Carl Derush of Maloney's Florist used birch branches, flowering almond branches, and lilies to bring verdant life to this large image of the Adirondack woodland.

Laurie Costello's arrangement of leucadendron, kermit buttons, yellow alstromeria, ferns, and dried mushrooms blends right into the bears' habitat.

Of course, not all of the arrangements recede into the background. Craig Waltz Jr. of Fleurlite Floral Design created a stunning composition of vandal orchids, anthurium, palm leaf, palmetto leaf, and lilies that brings to mind both Adirondack pines and Pacific island flora but certainly livens up an expanse of blank wall.
This sweet little arrangement, which consists of roses, lilies, pincushion protea, and bird of paradise, complements a small mining exhibit. It was created by Anthony Macarelli.

The Minerals of New York gallery is one of the most popular sections of the Adirondack Hall. This arrangement, which consists of lilies and some sort of grass, complements a specimen case beautifully -- and proves that one doesn't need tons of varied blooms to create an arresting composition. Unfortunately, the accompanying label vanished some time before I visited the gallery, and as a result cannot identify the creator.

The section of Adirondack Hall devoted to recreation features this arresting arrangement by Donald Bennett of White Cottage Gardens. It consists of roses, alstromeria, freesia, thistle, seeded eucalyptus, pine, and boxwood.

Immediately to the south of Adirondack Hall is a large gallery devoted to the native peoples of New York State. The mastodont in the exhibit devoted to the settlement of what is now New York approximately 12,000 years ago is a big hit with kids of all ages, and this arrangement by Pamela Nagengast of Emil J. Nagengast Florist was a big hit with me. It features French tulips, dendrobium orchids, calla lilies, lisianthus, snapdragons, larkspur, caspia, stock, foxtail, curly willow, flexigrass, Italian ruscus, and eucalyptus.

Janet Wierzchowski, Helen Lindstrom, and Marie Mueller of the Schoharie Valley Garden Club used chrysanthemum, daisies, solidago canadiensis, pussy willow, curly willow, fantail willow, Norwegian spruce, white pine, cornhusks, eucalyptus, and allium to create an arrangement that harmonizes beautifully with the Iroquois longhouse.

The Native Peoples of New York gallery features a wide array of contemporary Iroquois baskets, beadwork, and other crafts. This stunning arrangement by Terry Waltz of StoryTime Chinese consists of pussy willow, flax, and lily. It harmonizes perfectly with the works on display . . .

. . . and even features a Mohawk inscription spanning three of its leaves. Unfortunately, I don't know what it means; a scannable mobile code that directed cell phone users to an English translation was available, but for some reason I left my cell phone at home today. Any readers of Mohawk out there?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New York in Bloom 2012, day two

This afternoon, I went back to New York in Bloom, the New York State Museum's annual after-school program fundraiser. I decided to start my explorations at the point yesterday's excursion ended: one of the entrances to the New York Metropolis gallery, which focuses on the history of New York City. Owing to my choice of entrance point, I ended up exploring the gallery in reverse chronological order (with a few detours here and there), which is not how I usually approach museum exhibits. However, it's always good to mix things up a bit.

Donald Judd's untitled 1968 sculpture was a gift to the state from Governor Nelson Rockefeller. At present, it sits at the northeast entrance to the New York Metropolis gallery. Linda Knipper of the Capital District Iris Society used mums, daisies, caspia, cushion mums, button mums, leather leaf, ruscus, limonium, and fern to create a complementary arrangement.

The New York State Museum holds Sesame Street's original set, and its distinctive brownstone stoop has a spellbinding effect upon small children. I didn't want to disturb the young devotees who were thronging this exhibit, so I wasn't able to capture most of the superb arrangement that David Johnson and Tammy Jobmann of the Pawling Flower Shop created. However, I was able to photograph their superb Oscar the Grouch. Oscar was always my favorite Sesame Street character, and this Oscar is made of some of the following flowers: spider mums, carnations, seeded eucalyptus, sheet moss, gerbera daisies, wax flowers, daisies, lilies, solid aster, roses, larkspur, laurel, bear grass, Italian ruscus, liatris, button mums, bells of Ireland, tulips, and iris (flowers not pictured are featured in other parts of the arrangement)

I really like this arrangement, which sits in front of a shuttered newsstand situated a few feet away from a 1940s subway car. Connie Strong Wilbur of the Bethlehem Garden Club's composition consists of hypericum, chrysanthemums, monstera leaves, steel grass, miniature calla lilies, and snapdragons.

This stunning array of red roses, red anthurium, aspidistra, foliage, and red ti leaves sits at the entrance to the Black Capital: Harlem in the 1920s exhibit. It was created by Steve Dominiak of Surroundings . . . .

. . . . and it harmonizes beautifully with the coat of the woman at far left.

I'm not quite sure why I like this arrangement, which was created by Michaela Manchester of Felthausen's Florist and sits next to artifacts documenting the African-American press, but I do. It contains ginestra, gerbera daisies, spiral eucalyptus, tulips, bells of Ireland, myrtle, coffee leaf, brazillia, hypericum, and roebellini.

Simple, yet unbelievably dramatic. Mike Jones of Bill Doran Floral Company used blue hydrangea, striped aspidistra leaves, and lily grass to create an arresting arrangement in an exhibit documenting life and work on the South Street Seaport.

New York is a coastal state, and as a result whales are our largest mammals. Stephanie Elicia Powers used green trick carnations, tree ferns, ti leaves, Spanish moss, Vielkenfrieden delphinium, Queen Anne's lace, and bear grass to create an arrangement that harmonizes with the Atlantic right whale skeleton that occupies a prominent position in an exhibit focusing on New York City's relationship with the natural world. (Do you want to know how museums prepare whale skeletons for exhibition? Check this out -- but not while you're eating.)

Susan O'Brien Nicholson of the Garden Club of Kinderhook created a small arrangement of limonium, carnations, muscari, thistle-erynguin, and pachysandra that sits next to a display of 19th-century bicycles.

This sweet little arrangement of daisies, carnations, mums, pussy willow, and bear grass complements a display focusing on outdoor recreation. It was created by Tamika Mottley of the Troy YMCA.

This arrangement, which was created by the City of Albany's gardening crew, is polarizing. It brings together thistle, blue lace flower, calla lilies, tulips, daffodils, asparagus ferns, delphinium, daisies, Peruvian lily, curly willow, succulents, impatiens, daffodils, wandering Jew, and sweet potato vine -- and a discarded tire, crushed soda cans and water bottles, a tattered takeout container lid, and other trash commonly found on urban streets. Some people were repelled by it, and others loved it. I'm firmly in the latter camp. It perfectly complements the adjacent display panel, which details how plants and animals establish toeholds even in the most man-made environments, and it serves as a reminder that the natural world is always with us -- even when we fail to appreciate its presence.

I'm a sucker for arrangements that incorporate "archival" material. This arrangement, created by Marcy Corneil and Beverly Goodfellow of the Bethlehem Garden Club, nicely complements an exhibit focusing on immigration. It brings together hypericum, chrysanthemums, monstera leaves, steel class, mini calla lilies, snapdragons, a family Bible, and facsimiles of photographs, passports, and other family papers.

At the center of the New York Metropolis Gallery is an exhibit chronicling the rise of skyscrapers during the late 19th and 20th centuries. I was struck by how well all of the arrangements in this exhibit complement the images and artifacts on display. Anthony Macarelli's simple yet sophisticated arrangement of gerbera daisies, roses, and branches is right at home amid the glass towers of New York City's 20th century skyline.

Emily Shook of Em's Floral Design used curly willow, alstromeria, carnation, and limonium to create an arrangement that harmonizes with Paul Goldberg's painting Robert Moses, which depicts a man who -- for good and for ill -- profoundly altered the built environment of New York City and its environs.

Meg Bugler, who teaches floral design for the Capital Region BOCES, owns Meg Bugler Flowers, and is a member of the Van Rensselaer Garden Club, created the arrangement that sits in front of a huge photograph of the arch in Washington Square Park. It consists of leather leaf fern, ruscus, tree fern, bear grass, pittosporum, spiral eucalyptus, delphinium, snapdragons, and stock roses.

Peter Scranton of the Schenectady ARC used tulips, iris, alstroemeria, asters, limonium, lemon leaf, and curly willow to create an arrangement that beautifully complements an array of 19th century architectural elements.

Tina Marie Smith of the Empowerment Center created an arrangement of roses, ranunculus, and glad leaves that is almost indistinguishable from the collection of 19th century ladies' hats on display in an exhibit devoted to the evolution of consumer culture in New York City.

A closer look at these sumptuous hats. In the background, you can see a 19th-century woman dining at the famed Delmonico's restaurant.

Finally Martha Teumim of the Bethlehem Garden Club created an elegant arrangement of hydrangeas, roses, delphinium, lilies, lemon leaves, and eucalyptus that beautifully complements the adjacent exhibit documenting the lives of New York City's colonial elite.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New York in Bloom 2012, day one

New York in Bloom, the New York State Museum's annual fundraiser for its stellar after-school program, is underway. The lobby of the State Museum has been turned into the lush vision above, and more than a hundred floral arrangements have been placed amidst the State Museum's galleries.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time know that I'm a huge fan of both New York in Bloom, which is a luscious harbinger of spring, and the State Museum's after-school program, which serves boys and girls from Albany's most challenged neighborhoods and provides them with solid academic and social support. Every student enrolled in the program for teens has graduated from high school, and the overwhelming majority go on to college; most are the first person in their family to do so.

I have a rather lengthy electronic records post in the works, but I'm going hew to tradition and focus on New York in Bloom for a few days. I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures of flowers and New York State Museum artifacts as much as I enjoyed taking them. And if you're in Albany this weekend, please take a little time to stop and smell the flowers . . . .

The furniture in the roomscape in the State Museum lobby was created in 1842, most likely by Alexander Roux, for Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Kelly's home at 9 West 16th Street in New York City. It is now part of the State Museum's vast collection of New York furniture.

David Michael Michael Schmidt of Renaissance Floral Design (who created a stunning display in the very same space in 2009) created the roomscape and its sumptuous floral arrangements.

I was working today, so I got the chance to visit only one gallery. After taking in the red carpet and the red flowers in the lobby roomscape, I knew exactly where to go: the Fire Engine Hall, which is home to a lot of red and attracts young visitors whose giddy enthusiasm for fire trucks matches my gleeful enjoyment of New York in Bloom.

En route to the Fire Engine Hall, I encountered this year's "signature arrangement." Created by Andrew Koehn of Mohonk Mountain House and featured prominently in all New York in Bloom 2012 publicity materials, it consists of larkspur, aster, French tulips, lilies, gerbera daisies, godetia, dianthus, buplereum, viburnum, and citrus fruits.

In order to access the Fire Engine Hall, one must pass through part of the World Trade Center gallery, which features a haunting array of objects documenting the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the complex. Arrangements are situated throughout all of the other galleries, but the only arrangement permitted in this gallery is placed at its entrance. This year's arrangement, which was created by Kate Pietrykowski and Barbara Ostroff of Delmar Florist, features freedom roses, snapdragons, gerbera daisies, bells of Ireland, delphinium, chrysanthemums, carnations (regular and miniature), football mums, alstroemeria, green hydrangea, lemon leaf, leather leaf, aspidistra, and Bradford pear branches. The canister to the left of the arrangement was used to contain suspected explosive devices found at the World Trade Center. Emergency personnel found it in the rubble, and it is now dedicated to the memory of three first responders who perished on 11 September 2001: two bomb squad technicians and one bomb-sniffing dog.

One of the first things one sees upon entering the Fire Engine Hall is this 1875 Clapp and Jones Manufacturing Company steam engine, which was used by three fire departments throughout the state. Amanda Fagan and Tessa Czajkowski of the Capitol Region BOCES Floral Design Program created a complementary arrangement of leather leaf fern, tree fern, bear grass, spider mums, alstroemeria, traechilium, delphinium, carnations, gladiolas, and ting.

This arrangement, which was created by Rich Coogan of Bill Doran Floral Company, consists of bromeliads, leucodendron, protea pink mink, protea pincushion, ginger, heliconia, agonis foliage, ti leaf, tee pee foliage, lipstick stems, and split birch twigs. To its right sits a 1791 "tub" (a hand engine filled by buckets, not hoses) built by Richard Mason of Philadelphia and used until 1832 by a Lansingburgh, N.Y. fire company.

This hand-pulled parade carriage, built ca. 1875 and owned by a New York City volunteer fire company, is perhaps the most striking artifact in the Fire Engine Hall. Benjamin Hodder of Frame of Light used poplar, white Siberia hybrid lilies, Long Beach orange gerbera daisies, pink almond branches, and bear grass to create an equally arresting arrangement.

Here's a closeup of part of the arrangement and part of the carriage.

I'm quite fond of this arrangement, which was created by Carie Hennessey and Linda Mannella of the Bethlehem Garden Club. It consists of roses, Asiatic lilies, daffodils, tulips, snapdragons, and red dogwood, and it nicely complements the 1938 Ahrens-Fox motor pumper formerly owned by the Fire Department of New York.

In the background: a 1953 Ward LaFrance motor pumper. In the foreground: a arrangement of bird of paradise, croton leaves, honey bracelet, agonies, solidago, leucadendron, snapdragon, lily, freesia, curly willow, gladiola, and seeded eucalyptus created by Karen Ann Campbell of Henry F. Clas Florist.