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"Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith" book cover with photo of author Barbara Falconer Newhall

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The Downside of Things Beautiful — From the Mighty Rose to the Humble Daisy

An exotic orange blossom from Bloomster's floral designer Kren P. Rasmussen. Photo by BF Newhall

Orange petals play off bright greenery in a design by Kren P. Rasmussen of Bloomster’s, San Jose. Photos by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The fine artist wannabe in me asserts that, as a rule of thumb, flowers are just too nice, too darned pretty to be the subject of Real Art.

Monique Duncan combined blossoms and seed pods for a colorful floral design at de Young museum's Bouquets to Art show. Photo by BF Newhall

Monique Duncan of Plumweed Flowers Co. of San Francisco used curly willow to support a mixed bouquet that included green pompons and succulents, purple anemone and thistle, and yellow billy balls, leucadendron and ranunculus.

Real Art needs grit. It needs to be problematic. It needs tension. Something has to be askew. But flowers, by their very nature, fail the tension test. They never seem troubled to me, or even ruffled.

Whenever I find myself face-to-face with a flower, be it a hot house orchid or a forget-me-not growing in the crack in the pavement by our mailbox, I am beguiled by its perfection. By its completeness.

I can’t take my eyes off the thing.

There is something about a forsythia blossom, a four o’clock in bloom or a morning glory, that reckons on being looked at. Just as fragrance is meant to be breathed, and texture fingered, so is a flower meant to capture the eye. A bee’s eye. A hummingbird’s eye. Your eyes and mine.

So, indulge me please. Here’s yet another post about flowers (from the 2013 Bouquets to Art exhibition at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco) and their attendant leaves and twigs and seed pods . . . I can’t help myself. I’ll probably be doing another flower post before long. Stay with me.

Earlier photos from the de Young show are at “Where Poppies Dance and Cactuses Are Petit Fours,”   “It’s Art — But Is It a Bouquet?” and “A Final Toss of the Bouquet.”

PS: My son gets married soon. To celebrate, there will be family from all over the country, great food, a first-rate photographer . . . and I’m pretty sure, flowers.

Close-up of arrangement of yellow roses by Svenja Brotz of Chestnut and Vine Floral Design, Berkeley, CA, for 2013 de Young Bouquets to Art show. Photo by BF Newhall,

Detail from a towering, ceiling-high design for the de Young show by Svenja Brotz of Chestnut and Vine Floral Design, Berkeley, CA. The work included yellow roses and gerbera daisies.

Floral design Foral design at the De Young, 2013, by pico soriano and ignacio harburu. Photo by BF Newhall

Design by Pico Soriano and Ignacio Harburu.

Overlapping leaves in a floral design by Anne Mendenall for the Bouquets to Art show at the De Young Museum, SF, 2013.

Detail from a design by Anne Mendenall. Photos by BF Newhall

Bright pink orchids in a floral design by Heather Dunne of the Orinda Garden Club for the 2013 Bouquets to Art show at the MH De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco. Photo by BF Newhall

Orchids — detail from a design by Heather Dunne of the Orinda Garden Club.

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