Saturday, February 23, 2013

New York in Bloom 2013, part one

New York in Bloom, the New York State Museum's annual fundraiser for its after-school programs, is being held this weekend.  Those of you who have been following this blog for a bit know that I'm a huge fan of this event, which brings some much-needed color and fragrance to a bleak month.  When it arrives, I stop blogging about records, digital preservation, and archives for a few days and devote a couple of days to writing about flowers and the exhibits created by my employer's sister institution. 

Those of you who know about New York in Bloom may also know that the Museum Club (8-13 years old) and Discovery Squad (14-18 years old) have given invaluable educational, social, and vocational support to young people from some of Albany's most hardscrabble neighborhoods.  Each and every Discovery Squad student has graduated from high school -- no small accomplishment given that Albany High School's 2011 graduation rate was an appalling 52.3 percent -- and 92 percent have been admitted to college.  If you're going to be in the Albany area tomorrow, please consider attending New York in Bloom and supporting these fine programs.

This is the fourth year I've blogged about New York in Bloom, and I have to say that the floral arrangements, which are created by floral designers, students, garden clubs, and individual hobbyists, are a little less extravagant than in years past.  For example, the Bird Hall, which in past years was home to sextets of mammoth floral roomscapes, is completely devoid of arrangements this year.  However, the stunning "Once Upon a Time" arrangement that David Michael Schmidt of Renaissance Floral Design created for the main lobby of the Cultural Education Center (which houses the State Archives and State Library as well as the State Museum) is one of the lushest and most ornate things I've ever seen.

This is the fourth year I've blogged about New York in Bloom, and I have to say that the floral arrangements, which are created by floral designers, students, garden clubs, and individual hobbyists, are a little less extravagant than in years past.  For example, the Bird Hall, which in past years was home to sextets of mammoth floral roomscapes, is completely devoid of arrangements this year.  However, the stunning "Once Upon a Time" arrangement that David Michael Schmidt of Renaissance Floral Design created for the main lobby of the Cultural Education Center (which houses the State Archives and State Library as well as the State Museum) is one of the lushest and most ornate things I've ever seenThis fairy tale-themed installation features several artifacts from the State Museum's collections, including a flax wheel made ca. 1830 by R. Werdon.

Note the bitten apple to the left of the "carriage," which is actually a 19th-century glass hearse that was formerly part of a private collection in Greenville, New York.

The glass slipper and gown were created for the now-defunct New York Theater Institute, which used them in several early 21st-century productions.

My photographs of this display really don't do justice to this installation, but this professionally produced video documenting its creation most certainly does.

The State Museum sometimes uses the corridor leading to the West Gallery to exhibit a large artifact or grouping of photographs, but at the moment the corridor is devoid of any exhibit materials.  As a result, the arrangements placed there really pop out.  Holly Hemming of Felthausen's Florist created this delightfully springlike arrangement of liatris, iris, blue hydrangea, button mums, and blue delphinium. It's one of my favorites.

I'm a sucker for white flowers and green foliage. Jessica Morgan, the Gardener of the City of Albany, used calla lilies, green hydrangea, bells of Ireland, green spider mums, green cymbidium orchids, and snapdragons for this grouping.

The West Gallery itself is a temporary exhibit space. At the moment, it's home to Eugene Ludins:  American Fantasist (open until 13 May 2013).  This commanding arrangement forsythia, amaryllis, Monstera deliciosa, aspidistra, and bear grass, which was created by On Thai of Surroundings Floral, stands at its entrance.

The western wing of the State Museum is devoted to the natural and early history of the state.  For the past few years, part of it has been home to Beneath the City:  An Archaeological Perspective of Albany.  Stacy Collins of Fleurtatious Designs created an arrangement of Gerbera daisy, liatris, larkspur, iris, delphinium, daffodil, and amaryllis bulbs that looks right at home in it.

I really like this grouping of leather leaf, lemon leaf, snapdragon, sunflowers, alstromeria, solidago, and facsimile historical records that Stephanie Elicia Powers of the Capital Region Career and Technical School placed right in front of two mammoth barrels that were found at the site of the Quackenbush-Douw-Bogaert rum distillery, which was established in 1758-1759.  However, I couldn't help but think -- and not for the first time -- that the City of Albany and the State of New York just don't think things through.  Albany is one of the oldest European cities in North America.  It's been continuously settled since 1624 (four years after the Mayflower!) but the powers that be don't recognize that the city's past is both unique and immensely valuable.  The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes that the history of Jamestown (settled a mere 17 years before Albany) is a huge tourist draw, and visitors to Jamestown see active archaeological digs and visit an archaearium that features some of the most compellingly interpreted exhibits I've ever seen.  What did the City of Albany do when the Quackenbush-Douw-Bogaert distillery was unearthed as a result of a construction project?  It let the State Museum and an area architectural firm access to the site -- for a few months.  It then finished building a six-story parking garage on the site.  I realize that Jamestown is currently inhabited by only a few people and that Albany is still a (semi-)functioning city, but no one with any amount of power seems interested in capitalizing upon, not burying, Albany's fascinating past.

Most of the State Museum's western wing is devoted to the Adirondacks, and as a result many of the arrangements found within it have a decidedly woodsy look.  I particularly like this Asian-influenced grouping of echeveria, lily, liatris, bells of Ireland, moss, and orchids, which was created by Craig Waltz of Fleurelite Floral Design.

Christopher Grigas of Fleurtacious Designs used phalaenopsis orchids, reindeer moss, magnolia leaf skeletons, and spruce, ash, and birch branches to create a subtle arrangement that splendidly complements a mammoth photographic image of Adirondack forest land.

As impressive as it looks from a distance, this arrangement really rewards close viewing.

Rich Coogan of the Bill Doran Company created a simple basket of white pine, birch, and sheet moss that splendidly complements a display of circular saw blades.

They're lumberjacks and they're okay.  They're also beautifully complemented by the curly willow, spider mums, bear grass, forsythia, Norwegian spruce, cedar, spruce, and white pine arranged by Janet Wierzchowski, Helen Lindstrom, and Ann Kabei of the Schoharie Valley Garden Club. 

Last year, the City of Albany Garden Crew, which is part of the city's Department of General Services, created a slightly controversial arrangement (scroll down) that featured garbage that had been strewn on the city's streets and in its parks (FWIW, I really liked it).  The group took a very different approach this year, and its arrangement of yellow daisy, Gerbera daisy, thistle, statice, sunflower, Queen Anne's lace, blue limonium, Matsomoto aster, green pompom athos, and spider mum that blends right into its surroundings.

Donna Ferlanzo of the Blue Creek Garden Club created a similarly complementary arrangement of hydrangea, miniature carnations, carnations, football mums, snapdragons, and baby's breath.

 
This arrangement is one of a trio that members of the Honest Weight Food Coop placed around this Adirondack mining wagon.  The accompanying placard contains a single list of all of the flowers used in all of the arrangements, so I have to confess my floral ignorance:  I recognize the Asiatic lilies and pincushion protea, but everything else is a mystery to me.
I adore this artful nest of tulips, roses, hydrangea, delphinium, moss, Italian ruscus, and boxwood, which was created by Anthony Macarelli of the New York in Bloom Committee. 

Pamela Nagengast of Emil J. Nagengast Florist created subtle clusters of sunflowers, kangaroo paw, mimosa, curly willow, seeded eucalyptus, thistle, trachelium, leucodendron, and oncidium orchid that melded into the Adirondack travel exhibit.

The Minerals of New York exhibit, which in years past has inspired floral designers to develop some really dramatic arrangements, was almost completely bare this year.  However, Jan Reilly of Henry F. Clas Florist created a pleasingly spiky arrangement of eryngium, leucadendron, ginestra, myrtle, and beads that fits in quite well with the geological specimens.

The State Museum's south wing is home to two permanent exhibits, Native Peoples of New York and Ancient Life of New York:  A Billion Years of Earth History, and a Photography Gallery and Exhibition Hall that house temporary exhibits.  Every year, someone places an arresting arrangement of white flowers and greenery in front of the mastodon display, and every year I attempt to take a decent photograph of it.  The above image really doesn't do justice to the splendid arrangement of carnation, spider mum, leather leaf fern, caspia, and emerald leaf that Maria Kolodziej-Zincio of the Greenport Garden Club created, but I like this piece so much that I'm posting the photo anyway.

In 1866, workers building Harmony Mill No. 3, a mammoth textile facility (now converted to loft apartments) in Cohoes, discovered the remains of a young male mastodon.  The Cohoes Mastodon's skeleton has been part of the State Museum's collections since 1915, and generations of New York schoolchildren have been fascinated and, in at least a few cases, terrified by it.  (A friend of mine first encountered the skeleton as a preschooler, and his screams prompted his father to carry him out of the exhibit hall.)  The understated arrangement that Jan O'Brien of The Country Florist created features curly willow, forsythia, chrysanthemum, roses, genistra, ruscus, and seeded eucalyptus.

Marilyn Ryan of the Garden Club of Kinderhook used protea, heather, pine, and wax flowers to create an arrangement that perfectly complements a display of contemporary Iroquois beadwork.

This arrangement of Berglia daisy, agonis, sunflower, and solidago harmonizes with a photograph of a contemporary Iroquois basket.  It was created by Donna Vincent of the Schenectady ARC.


At the moment, the Photography Gallery is home to Gordon Parks: 100 Moments (closes May 19, 2013), which features 100 photographs documenting African-American life in New York City and Washington, DC in the early 1940s.  The images are compelling -- see this exhibit if you can -- and Charles and Barbara Guyette of W&P Enterprises created an arrangement of arachnia orchid, curly willow, lily, broad leaf eucalyptus, safari sunset, and leucodendron that complements them beautifully.

This is another favorite.  Linda Savage of W&P Enterprises created it with alstromeria, eucalyptus, leather leaf fern, godetia, tea roses, roses, baby's breath, juniper, palm, mums, spider mums, asparagus fern, and curly willow.

1 comment:

C in DC said...

Thanks for sharing these. They're so beautiful.