Friday, March 9, 2018


March blew in like the proverbial lion this week. Midwest weather frequently toys with us at just about this time of the year so Tuesday's snowstorm shouldn't have come as any surprise. It was one of those wet and heavy snow falls, one that clung to the coat of our dogs making them look like they'd been in a fight with a pack of cotton balls the aftermath requiring a hot spray down in the shower to melt them out of their snow suits . It was a total contrast to the previous weekend where we were lulled into short sleeves and our tulips were thinking it just might be about time to pop through the garden dirt. The thought of flowers sent us looking for a big intake of the fragrance of spring.
We headed to the Paine Art Center  and Gardens where for two weekends, March 1-4 and 8-11, the Paine would be presenting their exhibit of Rooms of Blooms. The drive from Madison to Oshkosh takes about an hour and forty-five minutes. We did it with the windows partially open taking in the earthy scents of black soil and Wisconsin farmlands.
We have a great selection of museums in Madison but I've most recently been drawn back to the Paine for its special exhibits:
Dressing Downton
and Wonderland: Photographs by Kristy Mitchell
And now it was back again for Rooms of Blooms.  Once you've passed through the entry passage and paid the entry fee
You are drawn into their main exhibition room
where local florists have paired their floral artistry with paintings from the Paine's collection.
This pairing of paintings and floral arrangements extended out into the great halls.
Some chose large arrangements while others put together smaller bouquets, little sweet periods dotting an eloquent design sentence.
The mansion's architecture provided an elegant backdrop, the original entry doors providing a compliment to an urn full of flowers looking as if it had been pulled right in from the garden.
Weddings and flowers are a natural pairing making the great room a perfect setting for showing off table designs.
The tables took a number of thematic directions with romance holding sway.
There was a delicate quality to the tables that were astonishingly true competition for florists from much larger metropolitan areas.
There wasn't a room within the Paine Art Center that wasn't given the touch of floral blooms and the scent of spring whether on a table in the library
or in a Victorian parlor
or in a dressing area on top of a pair of matching semainiers
or as a tiny vase of two stems delicately placed on an American Empire side table in a guest bedroom.
But clearly the most prized floral placement I'm assuming was given to the top area florist or then one contributing the most amount of money was in the formal dining room.
Two tall centerpieces dominated the table surrounded by dozens of small vases each with a single white rose. The blush of color of the flowers and candles all playing off of the velvet seats surrounding the aqua covered table. The tall arrangements might have caused a bit of difficultly for guests sitting across from one another attempting to have a meaningful conversation but entering into a dinner party with such a magnificent floral display would have almost assuredly taken away everyone's need for conversation leaving them speechless and in awe.
As a finishing touch high tea was served among the flowers in the Conservatory. The whole experience was a welcome respite from the cold in a winter that now needs to end.

Melancholic Tulip, 1939
Andre Kertesz, photographer
Represented by Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York City

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