May’s Flowers

Jeanne Reiner’s watercolor Paeonia lactiflora-Peonies Multi, shown in 2017

April showers bring May flowers and our April focus on the intersection of art and the environment leads us naturally to artists exploring and portraying the bounty of botanicals. Over our 90+ years of exhibitions at the Greenwich Library, we’ve revisited a few themes regularly, and these lush harbingers of spring are amongst our favorites. Apart from their sheer beauty, they tell stories of international travel and touch on the sustainability of native plant life.

Flowers have bloomed in our still life shows, been portrayed in landscapes, and were featured in flower-specific exhibits that included community participation. 1996’s Art in Bloom, reviewed in the The New York Times and featuring Ning Yeh, was one of several shows we’ve curated which included floral installations created by local garden clubs. Our most recent one in 2017, also titled Art in Bloom, a group show which included Bill Scott and Jeanne Reiner, featured weekly arrangements inspired by individual artworks as did 1991’s All For the Love of Flowers. And the special events for 2010’s Beyond Botanicals included a painting demonstration by local artist-educator Hazel Jarvis. Jarvis was earlier featured in 2006’s In and Out of the Garden.

Timed to coincide with the annual convention of the Garden Clubs of America, 1968’s Greenwich Collects Flowers in Art: Private Collections featured the artwork of John LaFarge, Pablo Picasso, Ben Shahn, better known for his social realist work, and Andy Warhol. Their work was hung amongst the splendor of an Aubusson tapestry, an 18th century desk with floral-themed marquetry, and a cornucopia of flowery porcelain, all drawn from local homes.

In 1984 we exhibited the Floral Still Lifes of Friedy Becker-Wegeli, a show concurrent with the acquisition of one of her paintings for the permanent collection at the White House. Becker-Wegeli’s still lifes, like the Dutch Masters she was inspired by, portrayed impossible bouquets: flowers from around the world, blooming out of season, and brought together in a vase for our enjoyment. We later explored the scientific depictions of flowers in 2004’s Botanical Bounty, coordinated with the American Society of Botanical Artists.

Greenwich Library has created a reading list if you’d like to explore flowers in art further.

Last month we focused on Environmental Artists and you can find even more of our artists here.