On the heels of snowstorms and arctic temperatures, the New York State Museum presents a refreshing glimpse of spring beginning Saturday at the 23rd annual New York in Bloom event.
More than 100 floral arrangements crafted by professional floral designers, garden club members and floral enthusiasts will complement the museum’s exhibits.
“It is a little touch of spring while we’re still struggling through the winter, and I think people enjoy that,” said Albany resident and Fort Orange Garden Club member Audrey Hawkins.
It was a member of the Fort Orange Garden Club who suggested the event after seeing a similar one at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The New York State Museum liked the idea and has been putting on the show as a fundraiser for its educational programs for children.
New York In Bloom
WHERE: New York State Museum, 260 Madison Ave., Albany
WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday
HOW MUCH: $5; 12 and under free
MORE INFO: 474-5877, www.nysm.nysed.gov
Each year at a planning meeting, those interested in making arrangements receive a plain brown envelope with their exhibition assignments for the show.
“You don’t know where you’ll end up,” said Hawkins, who this year, with two other garden club members will be crafting an arrangement for the Adirondack section of the museum. It’s the designer’s job to create a floral arrangement that reflects the theme of the exhibition it accompanies. Last year, Hawkins’ work was near the orange taxi cab in a New York street scene, so she made a lamppost with a flower arrangement and sparkly accents that looked like lights. A few years ago, her arrangement was near the steam engine.
David Michael Schmidt, a principal at Renaissance Floral Design in Albany, has decorated the lobby area for the show for a few years. Schmidt looks to the museum’s collection for a theme for his displays. With museum staff, he visits the museum’s storage facility in Rotterdam. “We walk around this gigantic warehouse that is filled to the brim with everything from mineral pieces from the Adirondacks to neon signs taken from historic buildings in Albany,” he said.
What sparked his interest this year was a collection of rustic furniture made by Clarence O. Nichols out of tree roots. His display will give visitors a chance to see a part of the museum’s collection that has not been on exhibit for 25 years, noted the museum’s director of exhibitions, Nancy Kelley.
Schmidt will build his design around a large dining room table, chairs and rocking chairs. “The table will be displayed like there’s a celebration of some sort happening, but we’re going to twist it so it has a very organic and woodland feel to it,” he said.
He also likes to appeal to the youngest visitors, as the event is a good fit for families, offering art and science classes for children during the event. To that end, he plans to incorporate some “hoblins,” which are bronze sculptures of fairy-like creatures by British sculptor Julian Jeffery.
Four floral designers from Fleurtacious Designs in Latham will be designing pieces for different parts of the museum. Owner Kris Ann Elario will be preparing a large table vignette with flowers, decor, and accessories.
The challenge for many floral designers is the just-after-Valentine’s Day timing of the show. Designers at Fleurtacious Designs didn’t start planning the specifics of their projects until Monday, but they’re not worried about the last-minute aspect of this creative challenge, as it all seems to have come together after they’ve bounced ideas off of one another.
Schmidt said that he was interested to find out exactly what flowers would be available after Valentine’s Day for him to work with, as greenhouses deplete a good part of their supplies during the holiday. Once he knew that, he could begin to put things together for the display.
Laurie Costello of Albany, a business manager at an assisted living community who has been making designs for the show for years, enjoys this particular venue because it lacks some of the strict rules that other shows have and thus offers her a host of creative possibilities. This year, her design will be underneath the huge whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling.
“I love the outdoors,” Costello said. “I look at sticks and at trees and at dried-up pods, and I think of things that could be made out of them.”
For this show, she is using those natural elements to build “a really weird snail spine” with sticks as vertebrae in the shape of a three-quarters circle. A fresh arrangement will sit in the middle.
Costello also will be giving a demonstration about arrangements using natural elements.
Other classes and demonstrations include paper-crafted daffodils and hyacinths, what your garden needs to know about climate change, the floral salad chef, still-life vases, styling cut flowers for your home, and sogetsu-Japanese flower arranging.