Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Flower Myth

An insightful exhibition traces floral art from Edouard Manet to Jeff Koons.

imageStill Life with Japanese Print

Paul Gauguin

(Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art)

The Fondation Beyeler outside Basel, Switzerland, presents “Blumenmythos”—“Flower Myth”: 150 art works from Impressionist paintings to contemporary installations.

Like our own Project, this show explores the changing meanings, values, and perspectives embodied by flowers, as people transport blossoms from nature into culture. This exhibition, which opened at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark, emphasizes several shifts in floral art—from late 19th century naturalism to abstraction in Picasso and Giacometti, to Warhol’s decorative flower series of the 1960s and the more socially engaged works of contemporary artists, like Maria Cardoso’s funereal “Vertical Garden.”

“Any painter reveals his true self by painting flowers,” says co-curator Ulf Kuster. And in doing so, artists tend simultaneously to reveal the tenor of their times. Is nature to be mimicked or mastered? Do we notice the vivacity of flowers, or their mortality?

The   Fondation Beyeler has a gorgeous web exhibition of 14 pieces from “Flower Myth” (it’s worth downloading Flash Plug-in to view these works by Van Gogh, O’Keefe, Ernst, Goldsworthy…); the swiss info site even has a short video of the exhibit, excellent since one of the pieces IS a video. Those of us who won’t make it to Basel before the show closes, May 22, can especially appreciate these digital tours. There’s also a catalogue (about $80, including shipping to the US).

Thanks to the curators of the Louisiana Museum of Art and Fondation Beyeler for mounting this imaginative, sumptuous show. Flowers are more than soap scent and restaurant decor!

Posted by Julie on 03/19 at 11:25 AM
Art & MediaPermalink

Friday, March 18, 2005

Sunset for Colorado Rose Farms

First the state’s carnation farms collapsed; now Colorado roses are fading too.

imageSunset, Estes Park, CO


In the global competition for cut-flower dollars, U.S. farms have been struggling for twenty years. Now, in Colorado, once an international center for carnation and rose production, flower farms are vanishing.

“The Colorado carnation was the first trademarked flower in the United States. Wheat Ridge, home to many greenhouses and the epicenter of the trade, called itself ‘Carnation City USA’ and sent a bunch of local carnations to the White House every week.

“At its high point, Colorado counted more than 100 carnation growers in annual agriculture surveys. Their record production came in 1974, when greenhouses sold 193 million blooms. Today, the state produces roughly 1.5 million carnations.”

South American carnation farms drove the Colorado growers—those that didn’t fold altogether— into production of roses, which sell for more per stem. “By 1991, Colorado cut-flower growers produced twice as many roses as carnations, setting a record high that year of 40 million roses.

“That was also the year Congress passed the Andean Trade Preference Act, which removed tariffs from Andean agricultural imports to encourage that region’s farmers to switch from growing coca, the plant from which cocaine is derived, to more benign crops.

“The duty-free shipping lured dozens of South American growers to sell roses, and their sales soared. In 2003, Colorado rose growers sold 1.2 million blooms, but that production fell further last year as a couple remaining growers switched crops.”

The year-round sun and cheaper labor in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, have all but vanquished the rose farms too. Berthoud Rose Farm, profiled in this article, is one of the last remaining cut-flower farms in the state. Its “crop of 800,000 roses annually is now almost the entire state’s production.”

Colorado roses abound in June and July; during those months, growers can drop prices steeply enough to compete with Latin American farms.

Wishing well to fair and humane flower farmers world-wide, we ask buyers, “Do you know where your roses come from?”

Posted by Julie on 03/18 at 12:48 PM
Cut-Flower TradePermalink

Russia Bans Belgian Flowers

Moscow cracks down or more European imports.

Interfax reports today that Russia’s Rosselkhoznadzor, in charge of veterinary and phytosanitary control, has banned Belgian flowers, claiming “Dangerous pests have been observed on them more than once. Furthermore, we have turned up instances were plants were delivered with falsified certificates.”

Over the past six months, Russian authorities have curtailed imports from the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark also, citing similar infringements of national standards. The Rosselkhoznadzor chief “did not rule out the possibility that Russia might ban all plants from Belgium.”

Posted by Julie on 03/18 at 12:34 PM
Cut-Flower TradePermalink

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Green, Green

The malachite butterfly and shrimp plant dance South Florida’s greenest duet.

imageGreen shrimp plant

(Blechum brownei)

Photo: PIER

In an imaginative St. Patrick’s Day story, the outdoor writer for the Southwest Florida News-Press called on local naturalists to name their favorite green creatures, and turned up moray eels, lizards, and the green shrimp plant (blechum brownei):

“This delicate-looking plant is a larval host plant to the aptly named malachite butterfly, which has wings the color of the mineral.

imageMalachite butterfly

(Siproeta stelenes)

Photo: Ellie Hogeveen

“The butterfly is often considered the most beautiful in Florida. The plant isn’t. ‘It’s a weed. Green. Grows all over the ground. Stays low,” said master gardener Gayle Edwards of south Fort Myers. ‘The flower is green, like a bunch of shrimp together but green.’” Like the poinsettia, the shrimp plant’s “flower” is actually a cluster of bracts. (The shrimpy-colored variety abounds here in Central Texas.)

I find it fascinating—and apt—that such a rare species as the malachite butterfly, (siproeta stelenes) requires a “weed” to make a go at life, the same story as “Pretty Woman,” except prettier.

Posted by Julie on 03/17 at 03:05 PM
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