Friday, February 2, 2018


It was Friday morning, early but not too early. The C and B lines are right around the corner from our apartment. I could feel the flu seeping into my bones as I walked down the two flights of stairs from our apartment and into the street on my way to an already arranged client meeting. It's a half block to the corner and then a right turn onto Central Park West to get to the subway entrance. My steps were labored. The ache of a self-diagnosed malaise forced my gait to appear a bit hunched against the January cold, the onset of the flu and a troubling workload. I almost didn't catch the flower flash snaking around a random park bench set against the stone retainer wall across Central Park West. If it weren't for the heaviness of my feet stumbling over a small crack in the sidewalk I might not have been jarred into lifting my gaze beyond the tips of my shoes and across the street.
It was just enough to see the dramatic burst of color against the grayness of the day and that otherwise inconspicuous bench, but there it was, a garland of roses, peonies, hydrangeas and orchids, a tableau of joy.
I had to stop. I had to wonder. It was beautiful. Not even the most hard-hearted Upper Westside commuter could help but pause on the corner of 88th and CPW and for just a few seconds forget about getting down to the dark tunnel beneath the city that would get them to their job. There was already a small crowd. Some stood there just admiring. Others crossed the street to get closer. Some of us pulled out phones and took pictures to share with friends and family and maybe even the world.
There were hints about its creator stenciled on the ground around that ordinary bench that had been transformed into a fairy princess' throne. Whoever it was had labeled it a "flower flash" in a chalk stencil on the sidewalk. Another note read, "LMDXNYC", a cryptic set of letters leaving a petal trail of clues in the flower flash mystery.
It didn't take me long to google "Flower Flash" and "LMDXNYC". Turns out this wasn't a one off. These "Flower Flashes" have been going on for a while and have even been highlighted in Vogue. The culprit or Robin Hood of the flower flashes is a New York floral designer, event planner and his team of merry cohorts.
Their sole goal has been to brighten up our early commutes by creating infernos of color in the most unexpected places.
Lewis Miller and his crew have taken trash cans and park benches and turned them into bouquets you'd normally only see at society events where the men wear tuxedos and the women are draped in diamonds and pearls.
"Gifting flowers to New Yorkers is a simple idea that I have been thinking about for years," Lewis says. "I am in the business of fantasy and flowers, and it's my job to transform key moments in my clients' lives into joyful, everlasting memories.
I wanted to recreate a similar feeling for the everyday city-dwellers and tourists of New York City."
Without a whispered word of where their next flash is going to occur Lewis and his crew meet at a designated location with a call time of 5:45am. They lay out their design with the goal of finishing just before sunrise.
The flowers are mostly culled from a previous evenings event, flowers that might otherwise end up in a dumpster make their way to famous city icons, random hallways
and even construction sites.
The concept is simply, to bring beauty to the average New Yorker or tourist but every so often it has a more consequential purpose.
I'm still holding the scent of all those beautiful flowers on my subway stop park bench in my olfactory memory bank and all that's due to a man and his merry band just wanting to bring a bit of unexpected joy into the lives of a great many of us New Yorkers.
It was Lewis, our New York floral Robin Hood, who said, "Who doesn't love to get flowers? They are such a luxury, and New York City is a very gritty, fast-paced town. If we can bring nature-something wild and sumptuous-to New Yorkers and make them smile, the way people smile when they witness a random act of kindness, then that is a great thing.
That is my goal. It's a really simple vision but powerful I think, to try to create an emotional response through flowers."

Vanitas VI (Reliquary), After D.B., 2015
Paulette Tavormina, photographer
Represented by Robert Klein Gallery

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