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Garden club members render inspired floral creations

March 23, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

Bronze cat equals pussy willows and tiger lilies.

This was part of the creative thought process of one team of flower designers who interpreted a piece from the collection of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts for the second year of "Art in Bloom."

The Hagerstown and Town and Country garden clubs hosted the event, inviting Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland's District V - the western part of the state - to create fresh flower interpretations of 16 works at the museum. Amy Hunt, museum curator, chose and randomly assigned various works of art, including paintings and works in bronze, colored pencil, plaster and even a paperweight, to garden club members.

On Friday, March 19, from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m., about 300 people assembled for a preview of the show that ran until Sunday. Deanna Soulis, a member of the Hagerstown Garden Club and co-chairwoman of the event, said tickets were $20 in advance and $25 at the door, including hors d'oeuvres and libations. A trolley was provided to transport attendees from parking lots to the museum. Soulis said proceeds of roughly $6,000 will benefit the museum.

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Joan Scobel, one of the four members of the Antietam Garden Club who interpreted a bronze statue by Dan Ostermiller of a cat entitled "In September, 2000," said they received a small photograph of the work along with their assignment.

Scobel, with partners Mickey Slasman, Rosemary Vocke and Barbara Zimmer, chose bright orange tiger lilies representing the bronze color and the cat itself, a round pottery container embodying the round of the cat's back, and fasciated willow conveying the curves of both the legs and the back.

June Risser of the Hagers-town Garden Club pointed out thorny considerations facing designers. Some preferred flowers were unavailable due to the season. Beddings like moss were prohibited to ensure proper cleanliness and care of museum works, Risser said. Delicate flowers could not be used effectively, as arrangements were required to hold up for a few days without watering and other care.

Finally, being assigned works rather than choosing them presented a challenge for designers, Risser said. Her design partner, Rita Mellott, agreed.

The two worked along with Laura Zimmerman to interpret Ralph McGuire's "Family Scene," a whimsical 1948 oil on panel depicting a family of five in an urban setting.

"We were nervous about working with modern art," said Mellott. "But I think it turned out really great."

The team glued together glass and pottery containers and spray-painted them gray, conveying the form and color of the buildings in the painting. Mellott said they chose five red anthuriums - Hawaiian tropical flowers - to give the arrangement life and to represent each family member, then added fasciated willow suggesting the lines of the painted sky.

Soulis said her co-chairwoman Colleen Newell, a member of the Town and Country Garden Club, came up with the idea to host an "Art in Bloom" event modeled after one at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

"She realized we have this wonderful museum and a great opportunity to support it," Soulis said.

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