Bouquets to Art at the de Young — Where Poppies Dance and Cactuses Are Petit Fours

kaori imaizumi of Blooming Floral Design designed a colorful bouquet for Sam Franis's "Helios" 1986 at de Young museum Bouquets to Art Show. Photo by BF Newhall

Kaori Imaizumi of Blooming Floral Design in San Francisco created a bouquet to bounce off Sam Francis‘s Helios for the Bouquets to Art show at the de Young museum this week. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

It’s not too late to catch a bus – or a plane – and head out to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the annual Bouquets to Art show at the de Young museum.*

yu-mei chen assisted by chin-huat chang created a floral arrangement that included calla lilies to complement Mary Heilmann's "Passage" at the de Young museum's Bouquets to Art show, 2013. Photo by BF Newhall

Yu-mei Chen of San Jose, assisted by Chin-Huat Chang, was inspired by Mary Heilmann’s Passage 2006, at the left. Photo by BF Newhall

There you’ll find moon cactuses passing themselves off as petite fours, and poppies doing a dance with a spatter painting by Sam Francis.

Artichokes, orchids, sea fans, thistles, pussy willows – nothing botanical lies outside the imagination of the 130-plus floral designers displaying their work at the de Young this week. If  lush red berries bursting from a ball of cork can be called a bouquet, that is. Or multi-colored sea fans poking out from behind clusters of protea blossoms.

The de Young was jammed Tuesday morning as aficionados of floral art packed into the place for the first day of the five-day show – when the flowers are at their freshest.

(Tip: the museum was way less crowded around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, when all those eager early birds had taken their sore feet and aching backs home.)

As per tradition, each floral arrangement in the Bouquets to Art exhibition plays off a work of art in the museum’s collection – from Mexico’s saintly Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners, to

Nicole vidalakis of the san francisco garden club used spray roses and intertwined leaves in her floral arrangement complementing an image of Virgin and Child. Photo by BF Newhall

Nicole Vidalakis of the San Francisco Garden Club used spray roses, mesh and intertwined leaves in her floral arrangement to complement an 18th century image of Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners. Photo by BF Newhall

From Takako Miyashita a floral arrangement to complement Gottfried Heinwein's Epiphany II, 1998. Photo by BF Newhall

From Takako Miyashita, a curvaceous floral arrangement responds to another Virgin and Child — Gottfried Heinwein’s Epiphany II (Adoration of the Shepherds) 1998. Photo by BF Newhall

a lavish 17th and 18th century silver tea service.

Bouquets to Art, de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, through Saturday, March 23.

* PS: You can drive to the de Young, but museum parking is expensive and street parking hard to find. Still, one of my favorite things about the de Young is the terrific glimpse you get of the museum’s copper-clad walls as you enter the lot from Fulton Street at 10th Avenue — almost worth the 25 bucks I paid for mid-morning to late afternoon parking on Tuesday.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss two upcoming posts on the Bouquets to Art show, “It’s Art but Is It a Bouquet?” as well as  “A Final Toss of the Bouquet.”

samantha williams,  clara McInerney  and dimitri tretiakoff produced a floral tea for two spread complete with decorated layer cake and petite fours for the de young museum's bouquets to art exhibition. Photo by BF Newhall.

Tea for Two from Samantha Williams, Clara McInerney and Dimitri Tretiakoff of Glen Ellen. Notice the orange and yellow moon cactus petite fours in the background. Photo by BF Newhall

Writer & Photographer barbara falconer newhall at the de Young museum san francisco with a Bouquets to Art bouquet, March 2013. Photo by BF Newhall.

Even the ladies room at the de Young is bursting with flowers this week.



  1. Linda spencer says:

    Wonderful! So sorry I missed it this year, but will be sure to go next year. Great photos!

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      I’m really getting into photography for some reason. A nice change from writing maybe.

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