One of the best things about living in Florida during the winter months is that we are surrounded by luscious colors when all is dead and grey (or white!) up north. We see the blue-green of the surf, the myriad greens of the palms, and of course the brilliant hues of the flowers that we’re lucky enough to witness in bloom at this time of year.
In celebration of flowers, the Naples Art District is hosting a winter event that pairs artists of various mediums with those whose creative talents are in the art of floral arrangement. Artful Arrangements pairs top area floral designers with painters and other NAD artists to create unique floral designs inspired by various artist's works. Visitors to participating NAD studios will have the opportunity to view the finished floral pieces together with the art that inspired them, and to vote for their favorites. It’s a fun opportunity to explore all the different types of art being created throughout the district.
Paula Brody, president of the Naples Art District, said Artful Arrangements is based on a similar event at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. “The premier of Artful Arrangements last year was a huge success and exceeded our highest expectations in every way,” said Brody. “The event drew hundreds of visitors who marveled at the spectacular arrangements, fine art, and creativity of both artists and designers.” This year’s events will take place over four days, from February 22 - 25.
In addition to professional florists, last year’s event drew eight members of the Naples chapter of Ikebana International. Nearly double that number are expected to participate this year. Devotees of Ikebana study Japanese cultural practices as well as the very specific art of Japanese floral design. Unlike typically extravagant American floral designs, Ikebana has precise parameters and looks much simpler. It was first practiced by Buddhist priests some 600 years ago, who collected flowers and other natural materials from areas around their temple to create arrangements used on the altar. Modern Japanese citizens often place such arrangements in a sacred place within the home.
Floral Designer Debbie Sarrio (Driftwood Garden Center) and Artist Deborah Martin
Fort Myers resident Margy Metzler spent seven years in Japan earning her teaching certificates in Ikenobo, the oldest form of the art. She now heads the Naples chapter of Ikebana and her own local school (kadosenshoikenobo.com), where she guides others in the practice as a Sensei (teacher). “Every design has a piece of us in it,” said Metzler, “How you are feeling that day, how the flowers and the arrangement make you feel.” Each floral design represents heaven, earth, and mankind, with elements placed at precise heights and angles in relation to each other.
My cousin, Amy Grambeau, is a new practitioner of this art form and a student of Metzler’s. She will be creating a design for Artful Arrangements this year and, I’m happy to say, we will be paired together. But the two of us decided to approach the project from the backside. Amy will make her arrangement first and I will do an oil painting based on her design. Of course, she will have to recreate her design at the end of the month to give me time to accomplish my part and the flowers to remain fresh. As much as we enjoy the beauty of flowers, the nature of the beast is that it is fleeting.
In the Naples Art District, on Shirley and Taylor Streets, J&C Boulevard, and adjacent streets in this commercial district of North Naples, you’ll find over 100 painters, photographers, ceramists, sculptors, woodworkers, glass artists, and jewelry makers, as well as those working in fiber art, printmaking, mosaic, pastels, and collage. For more information on Artful Arrangements and other events, including classes and monthly open studios, visit naplesartdistrict.com.
Patrice Schelkun is a contemporary realist painter working in oil and on glass. She and her husband split their time between Naples and Lake George, NY. View her work at www.patriceschelkun.com or
@schelkun_studio_arts on Instagram and Facebook.