Arts & Events

New: "Bouquets to Art" Brings Flowers
to DeYoung Museum This Week

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday March 16, 2011 - 12:12:00 PM

If you happen to be in the vicinity of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on or before this Saturday, March 19, drop by the De Young Museum to see the 2011 installment of the annual “Bouquets to Art” show. 

The exhibit pairs Bay Area designers and florists with selected artworks—modern, traditional, eclectic—already on display in the museum galleries. 

Although I miss the use of the stately Legion of Honor museum and its European masterpieces as the forum for Bouquets to Art, this year’s show at the De Young is pretty good. 

For one week, each invited floral designer displays a site-specific creation matching the artwork. Some are whimsical, some funny, some powerful.  

A number of the designers display uncanny talent for matching the colors, mood, and style of their chosen artwork, whether it’s a painting, sculpture, or piece of furniture. Some of the flower arrangements are quite beautiful, others just weird. 

Among the most entertaining this year are two creations that perfectly parallel transportation paintings. Pico Soriano of Pico Design prepared an arrangement where baby’s breath stands in for billowing steam next to Reginald Marsh’s “The Limited”, a 1931 painting of a speeding train. 

Instructors and students from the College of San Mateo recreated in glass, white roses, phaleonopsis orchids, and delphiniums the 1850s James Bard painting, “The Steamship Syracuse”

A floral dog by Grace Street Floral and Event Design seemed a crowd favorite next to the life-sized carved wooden hounds on a monumental mantelpiece salvaged from Thurlow Lodge in Menlo Park. 

Elsewhere, R-Space from Sausalito matched up a Mel Ramos painting of “Superman” with a life-sized floral mannequin covered in blue, red, and yellow blossoms like a Rose Parade float. As least one patron couldn’t resist posing behind the headless sculpture. 

As always, when visiting art museums, I find half the fun is watching the patrons. Sooner or later a person who matches the flowers or artwork in clothing color or character will briefly wander into the “frame” creating a temporary second or third layer of either contrast or ad hoc harmony. 

In the modern galleries, Regula’s European Design of San Francisco created a pitch perfect array of blue bottle vases and single flowers to go with the colorful abstract Sam Francis painting, “Helio”. Nearby, Laurel Winzler of Laurel Designs of San Francisco arranged flowers and other objects in a box-like display reflecting the colored checkerboard painting “La Virgen and Colored Boxes” by Rupert Garcia. 

Pat Miller of A Bed of Roses Florist chose purple, pink, and violet blooms to perfectly reflect Cleve Gray’s painting, “Carrion”, and there were several displays of similar color and form-matching quality elsewhere in the museum. 

We went mid-week, during the two-hour Members Night on Wednesday evening. It was the only time available on our calendar, but it proved almost impossibly crowded, with thousands of people trying to see scores of installations in too short a time, or milling about in the airport mall-like entrance galleries underneath gigantic hanging sculptures.  

And at 7:50 pm the museum staff began chivvying the patrons out of the galleries. You’ll probably have better luck, and better sightlines, during the regular museum hours. 

You can photograph the flowers and the art in the permanent galleries. Flash photography is not allowed. The De Young has a decent café, and a large store with lavishly priced art and decorative objects and an extensive array of books. 

For visiting details see the De Young website at