Bouquets to Art, De Young Museum, San FranciscoThis dichotomy is on perfect display at San Francisco’s De Young Museum where today I stumbled onto the annual Bouquets to Art exhibit. I headed out meaning to go to the visiting Colossal Masterworks of the Olmec, but I got sidetracked to something more ephemeral. The Bouquets to Art exhibit pairs floral artists with works from the De Young permanent collection. The florists then create arrangements — art really — inspired by a particular painting or sculpture. As elaborate as these floral art pieces are, they can only last for a few days. Which is about how long the exhibit lasts — five days and ending tomorrow. If there is any way you can make it, do so. You’ve never seen floral arrangements like these. Thank goodness someone had the foresight to make a lovely coffee table art book out of last year’s exhibit. Because, outside of ice sculpture, you’ll never see art more transitory.

In some cases, the floral artist was inspired to create an arrangement that mirrors and enhances the color or forms of the original artwork. In other cases, a near replica of the artwork is “painted” with flowers. On and on it goes, floor after floor. I actually got somewhat overloaded with flowers as each installation was more inventive than the last. I ended up rushing around to my favorite artworks to see if they were among those chosen for flower recreation. Unfortunately no one attempted to recreate Boatmen on the Missouri in Dahlias or the Frederic Remington cowboy sculpture in Spider Lilies. Also, I only had my crappy point-and-shoot camera with me, so I can’t do the exhibit justice. But here are some that caught my eye:

Diebenkorn recreated in flowers, De Young, San Francisco

Here's a Diebenkorn recreated in flowers!

abstract recreated in flowers, de Young museum, San Francisco

How about this one?!

bouquets to art, de Young Museum, San Francisco

I love the way the floral artist mirrored the subject's dress and flame red hair.

bouquets to art, de Young, San Francisco

The floral artist assigned to this Pre-Raphaelite Celtic goddess, wove a recreation of her green dress out of calla lily stems.

floral waterfall, bouquets to art, de Young, San Francisco

Talk about upping the ante. Look at the floral waterfall paired with these Hudson River School paintings of Niagara Falls.

Bouquets to Art, De Young, SAn Francisco

This one was heartbreaking: mirroring paintings by Japanese American artists of life in WWII internment camps with a "prison" made of thorned rose stems.

Bouquets to ARt, de Young, SAn Francisco

How about this one that pretty much recreates the whole painting in floral matter?

Bouquets to Art

I especially appreciate any installation that obscures this large fuzzy geometric piece in the De Young lobby. It gives me an instant migraine whenever I look at it.

As you can see, even from my hasty point-and-shoot pictures, it’s a pretty spectacular exhibit. If you can’t get down to the museum tomorrow for the last day, mark your calendar for next year about the same time. Bouquets to Art is an annual event.

END NOTE:  I can’t do a post without paying tribute to some of the museum patrons I saw as I roamed from room to room. You know the type: the woman of a certain age who visits the museum in elegantly tailored pantsuit, gloves, hat and tastefully expensive bag. You’d be tempted to call them Ladies Who Lunch. Except, in San Francisco, these ladies don’t lunch, drink cocktails or throw a party without it being a benefit for something — most likely the Arts. They are the members of San Francisco’s Old Money and, dare I say it, I don’t think this relatively small city would have the world class arts offering it does without their untiring efforts. In a time of widening gap between rich and poor, thank goodness, at least in this city, these ladies of privilege take their extreme good fortune to be an obligation to give back. Their efforts not only fund the museums, symphony and other cultural offerings, I’m sure they are a major reason so many of these institutions have reasonable entry fees, free days every month and outreach programs to the local schools. Thank you again, Ladies! You are artful flowers to rival anything I saw today.

Find my photos from the exhibit here.