Descanso Gardens Goes "Beyond the Bouquet" in its New Show at the Sturt Haaga Gallery

Debuting January 22 - April 22, 2018

Published : Tuesday, January 16, 2018 | 11:22 PM

What do you imagine when you think of a floral arrangement? A dozen red roses with lemon leaves? An assortment of colorful spring blooms? Evidence of the ornamental use of flowers goes back at least to 2500 BCE when paintings and carvings of bouquets decorated Egyptian tombs. Beyond the Bouquet, a new exhibit at Descanso Gardens’ Sturt Haaga Gallery, explores not only depictions of beautiful flower arrangements in art, but the meaning and place that nature and beauty holds in everyone’s lives. The show runs from January 22 – April 22, 2018 and features 12 artists and 30 pieces/installations showcasing “The Beauty of Nature in Unexpected Detail.”

“In Beyond the Bouquet we have brought together a diverse group of artists to look beyond the traditional views of beauty in nature. The exhibition incorporates many mediums, including living pieces created to evolve and transform over the course of the show,” said Cristeen Martinez, Curator of the exhibition.

Beyond the Bouquet invites the public to consider organic materials that have been artfully manipulated for both decorative and sculptural effect. Do these materials now represent concepts that go beyond their components? Do they help one “cultivate a deeper relationship to nature itself,” as artist Karen Kimmel seeks to accomplish? Britton Neubacher and Cherrie Hoa Mai want to “disrupt outlooks that hold an individual separate from nature.” Tiffanie Turner and Kaz Yokou Kitajima present features that may not be obvious by magnifying or disassembling the parts. All in the quest to bring more meaning to a simple group of flowers.

The artists also draw inspiration from sources beyond plant material. Felisa Funes’ work is part sculpture and part painting. Drawing from her work as a florist and her MFA studies, she creates something that is more than décor. Kimmel’s inspiration comes from the Tao Te Ching, her meditative nature manifested in the inclusion of prayer rugs in her installation. Helen Rae is motivated by glossy fashion advertisements, transforming them into uniquely expressive works of art.

Some of the works that have been created for this exhibit contemplate a quality that is not normally part of the appreciation of floral arrangements— the process of decay. Joy Taylor’s “imagined still lifes” include “tumesence, fruition and decay” as the flowers bud and bananas turn black. Rebecca Louise Law and Rachel Warne, the photographer who documents the artist’s work, pursue an “alternative concept of beauty, embracing preservation and decay.” Natalia Stuyk and Alison Franchi explore the morphing of forms and their transience.

Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. The Sturt Haaga Gallery is open during exhibitions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Gallery admission is included in admission to Descanso Gardens: $9 for adults; $6 for seniors and students with a school I.D.; $4 for children 5 to 12, and free for ages 4 and younger.

• Members’ preview weekend – January 19-21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Opening Reception – January 21 from 3 to 5 p.m. Admission is free to the Gardens and gallery after 2:30 p.m.
• Open to the public – January 22, 10 a.m.
• Closes – April 22

Special Features:

Throughout Beyond the Bouquet, a botanical mural, outlined by artist Eric Junker, will invite gallery visitors to work together to complete a large-scale community art piece. As time passes the mural will change and grow as visitors add their own impressions and ideas. The progress of the mural will be documented on the Descanso Gardens website,

About Descanso Gardens

Founded as a public garden in 1953, Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. Descanso Gardens is open daily (closed Christmas) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults; $6 for seniors and students with a school I.D.; $4 for children 5 to 12, and free for ages 4 and younger. Descanso Gardens is a member-supported garden accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Join Descanso Gardens and enjoy free admission and early entry year-round. Information: (818) 949-4200 or






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