PHOTOS: Bloomin’ art – Art Center teams with Calusa Garden Club for floral exhibit

— It was here and then gone, in the blink of an eye. Unlike most art exhibits, the “Art in Bloom” show was mounted for only three days. A reception was held Friday evening at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, and then art lovers or flower fanciers had the weekend to take it in.

The brief time-frame mirrors the amount of time a flower can be counted on to show itself off to best advantage, after being cut. In a case of art imitating art, the Art in Bloom show consisted of 26 pieces by members of the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island, each interpreting in horticulture one of the “fiber art” pieces displayed in the Art Center’s main gallery.

The fiber art, textile and cordage pieces created by members of the Maine Fiber Artists Association, prominently display the name of the artist (each a woman from Maine) next to each piece. The Art in Bloom artworks, however, remained anonymous, with the artists, all from Marco Island or its environs, identified only by a number.

The reason for this, said Calusa Garden Club president Lindy Kowalczyk, was because the judging was being done by the visitors to the show, and the club wanted to avoid bias.

“We don’t want people just to vote for their friends,” she said, although perhaps the artists’ good friends would know which piece for which to cast their vote.

“People are taking it so seriously,” said Nancy Traiser of the Garden Club, standing in the gallery and helping to register patrons’ choices. “One man stood here for 30 minutes. He couldn’t make up his mind.”

Kowalczyk did spill the beans to a reporter on which works were her own, though, so she could explain the thought processes that went into the creation. She used royal palms and fishtail palms, fronds and pods, to evoke “Fly Horse Net” by Susan Perrine, in what must be considered a loose interpretation.

Some of the flower pieces hewed closely to the look of the original, such as the sunflowers in front of a bright quilt, lilies in a blue jean pocket, and another of Kowalczyk’s pieces, which stood before an autumn-colored scarf, also created by Perrine.

Once the people spoke, and names were matched to numbers, first place went to Connie Lowery (number three, for those who remember their votes). Second place was Peggy Grass, number 18, and Linda Turner, creator of artwork number 10, won third place.

The Calusa Garden Club also had a second exhibit at the Art Center, less high-flown and more practical. “Planting by the Compass” used four tables, accurately oriented to the poles, each showing ideal plantings for that side of your house. On the west went plants which can take, or need, a great deal of sunlight, such as desert rose, heliconia, or European fan palm.

North-facing or shaded areas call for crotons, with their beautifully colored leaves, peace lilies, or foxtail ferns. The foxtail fern, along with elephant ears, also works on the east.

The table for each point of the compass included examples of the palms, short, medium and tall shrubs, and miscellaneous plants suitable for that environment. The complete list, dozens of species on four pages, is available from the Calusa Garden Club.

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