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Published June 9th, 2021
Orinda garden club again joins Bouquets to Art at the De Young Museum
Orinda Garden Club members created an arrangement to complement this small but ornate chair from Ghana. Photo Sora O'Doherty

After a gap in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bouquets to Art is happening once again at the De Young museum in San Francisco. Continuing a 20-year tradition, Diana Kennedy and Phoebe Kahl will be representing the Orinda Garden Club again this year.
Kennedy told the Lamorinda Weekly that this is the first time ever that the group has been assigned a piece of furniture as their art. Bouquets to Art invites floral artists to create arrangements that complement a specific piece of artwork in the museum. Kennedy and Kahl this year are working with a small but ornate royal chair from Ghana. Not only is this the first piece of furniture they have worked with, but it is also the first time that they have ventured into African art. The chair is made of wood, leather, and copper and is ornamented with small animals.
Kennedy admitted, "We're pretty excited about it. Normally we have worked with artwork from Europe or America." In the past, she said, there has been a lot of art in the modern galleries, which are now closed for another exhibit, and the African has now been opened to Bouquets to Art. Floral designers are invited to come to the museum and select five different choices of art to work with for the exhibition. Kennedy and Kahl were notified about three weeks ago that they were given their fifth choice, the chair. "It will be fun," Kahl added.
The chair is protected by a plexiglass cube. Floral designers can use a pedestal for their arrangement provided by the museum or bring one of their own. Kennedy and Kahl will use one provided by the museum. It is 14 inches square and about 36 inches tall and beige in color. The placement of the floral arrangement is critical; if it were to fall over, it shouldn't hit the artwork.
In addition, the museum asks floral designers to avoid fabrics, or dried things in order to avoid introducing termites into the museum. Such materials can be used only with special permission and treatment, such as freezing the material for two weeks. Kahl and Kennedy normally purchase all the materials they will use, "unless" they say, "we have something spectacular in our garden." And because the exhibition is in early June they do expect to be able to use some spectacular things from their gardens.
OGC member Caroline Lavoie commented, "We've done ikebana class. Less is more, but not skimpy. We use things where we can highlight the plant material, focusing on line, mass and color."
The floral designers put their arrangements in place on June 7, and the arrangements have to last until the following Sunday, June 13. The designers are allowed to refresh the arrangements in the mornings before the museum opens or after closing. Kennedy and Kahl say that they try to use materials that are long-lasting but have backup materials, just in case. If an arrangement is wilting, the designers will get a call from the museum.
The tradition of Orinda Garden Club participating in Bouquets to Art was started by Sue Seifert, who used to have a floral shop in Orinda and also another by Mountain View cemetery. When Siefert died, Kennedy and Kahl picked up the tradition and continued with it. Another garden club member, Mari Tischenko, is also participating on her own.
Bouquets to Art, will be on display at the de Young Museum June 8-13. Unfortunately, owing to the pandemic, attendance numbers are reduced and in-person tickets are sold out at this time. However, members and non-members can enjoy an in-depth look at every floral design in the galleries with a ticket to for a virtual visit filled with behind-the-scenes details, curator picks, and more. Tickets are free for members and $10 for the general public and are available on the museum's website: www.famsf.org

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