Palette of Petals: Floral art takes over the GRAM

Tomorrow, the smell of peonies, carnations, orchids and more will fill the halls of Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Well, we don’t yet know exactly what flowers will be on display, but Art In Bloom is returning for the first time since 2015, bringing with it some can’t-miss events centered around the weekend exhibition.

The show invites 17 artists to look at the GRAM’s permanent art collection, find a piece that inspires them, and then construct a bespoke floral arrangement reexamining the work — whether the flowers recreate the art, intertwine with it or are merely inspired by it. Artists can also branch out (pun fully-intended) with their selection of flora, using succulents or just parts of the flower, like petals and leaves. Some artists also have used extra objects like antique frames and lights, which shift the arrangement’s color palette.

However it’s done, the intent is to offer new perspective into the original piece.

“This exhibition allows our guests to experience our permanent collection through a different lens and through a different artist's interpretation of it,” said Marnie McGuire, GRAM’s manager of corporate partnerships and fundraising events. “This isn't just for people who love flowers — it's for people who like design and creativity as it's inspired by art.”

The original art itself spans the media gamut, from a 15th-century painting to an ornate clock to a chair. McGuire said this show has brought some pieces out of the permanent collection that haven’t been on display in the GRAM for years, if ever.

As the weekend goes on, the flowers of course will begin to wither, giving the artists each a choice whether to pick and prune their piece or allow the passage of time to take its course, creating a dynamic work of art.

On Friday, a jury of flower and art experts will arrive to judge the works and award cash prizes of $1,000 and $500 to first and second place respectively. Over the weekend, the public will do the same, with the winners being announced Sunday.

The weekend is full of other events centered around Art In Bloom as well. Friday’s “Creativity Uncorked: Floral Painting” has guests drinking wine, learning how to mix colors and painting floral compositions. The event doesn’t require any experience, but it does require a reservation (and $40).

Saturday brings a collaborative fashion show with Kendall College of Art and Design, Bodies of Art. The show begins at 7:30 and tickets are $18. McGuire said that while this event is technically separate from Art In Bloom, some of the students were inspired by the floral exhibition in their fashion designs.

The same day, the GRAM’s chief curator, Ron Platt, will join a flower expert to host free drop-in tours, explaining both the original art’s history and the floral constructions.

On Sunday, the final performance of GRAM’s Sunday Classical Concert Series comes to a close with Music in Bloom, featuring a quartet of viola, violin, cello and piano. From 2-3 p.m., these four musicians will accompany the museum’s art with classical tunes.

The show is bi-annual, meaning it won’t be back until 2019, so don’t miss your chance now.

Art In Bloom
Grand Rapids Art Museum
101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids
March 24-26, (616) 831-1000