News from the Tennessee Valley Living Today
FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2007

Ross Railey, who owns Etc. by Ross, puts together his floral interpretation of a post modern art piece by Salvador Dali, 'Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion.'
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Ross Railey, who owns Etc. by Ross, puts together his floral interpretation of a post modern art piece by Salvador Dali, "Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion."

Flowers imitate art
Local floral designers interpret famous works with ‘Le Fleur d’ Art’

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

Creating a work of art with paints can be difficult, but duplicating the masters of the art world in flowers is even more challenging.

Several floral designers tackled the job Tuesday for “Le Fleur d’Art,” part of the fourth anniversary celebration at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. Their short-lived creations of fresh flowers are on display through Friday.

Designer Ross Railey of Etc. by Ross got the toughest assignment: a floral interpretation of the 1954 piece “Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion” by Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.

“We gave it to him because we knew he could do it,” said Carnegie staff member LeAnne Aldrich. She figured the modern art featuring an erupting face of a pocket watch at water’s edge would be a more difficult task than some of the softer floral interpretations of Impressionist painters that she and others undertook.

American pop artist Andy Warhol’s “Soup Can Bag,” was created in red carnations, red and yellow tulips and moss in a black-and-white checked container by Ann Bentley of Simpson’s Florist.

“Woman with a Parasol” by Impressionist painter Claude Monet was designed by Scott Willis and Kathy Clay of Willis Gray Floral Designs.

Their lavender and white flowers and moss spilled out of a gold frame and onto a fern stand holding more fresh carnations, azaleas and other blossoms around a stone statue.

Kristin Bentley of Simpson's Florist interpreted two paintings. A whirl of vines with greenery, white glads and lavender flowers was accented with pink tulips representing the ballerinas' arms and legs for the 1895 "Dancers in Blue" by Edgar Degas. For "Café Terrace," her version of the 1888 painting at Arles, France, by Vincent Van Gogh, she added smooth pebbles on moss to re-create the cobblestone streets, while yellow lilies reflected the warm light from the café and pinks and purples represented the buildings and sky.

The Henri Matisse painting "Open Window, Collioure" from 1905 was recreated by Aldrich and Earthly Creations. An old window missing five of its eight panes added character, with groups of pink roses, lilies and other pink flowers in pots and vases on both sides providing a reflection.

Tammie Jacobs did a reverse version of the 1660 "Vase of Flowers" by Jan Davidsz de Heem. She created and painted a dozen or so curled plastic flowers from 20-ounce recyclable bottles and used a child's yellow rubber rain boot for the vase. Children will learn to make these flowers at Camp Carnegie this summer.

Railey, who took statewide honors for his floral creations last month, said he thought there was "some swapping going on" among the other designers to get the photos of paintings they wanted to interpret.

"I was not familiar with this Salvador Dali painting, so when I got my assignment with the photo of 'Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion,' I wondered what in the heck they had given me, and I had to really think about what materials I could use to interpret it," he said.

He had only a couple of days to figure out how to portray Dali's dream imagery of an exploding watch in flowers, so he sprayed some metal flashing a copper color and turned a copper urn on its side. Then he added Lipstick roses, sunflowers, fantail pussy willow, curly willow, huckleberry and guni eucalyptus "to provide a lot of different textures in an effort to give the look of that painting."

"It took me eight to 10 hours to decide how I was going to do it, and once I got to the Carnegie, it took about two hours to put it together," Railey said. "I tend to work better under pressure, anyway."

Railey gave the Carnegie the idea for this "Le Fleur d'Art" anniversary celebration, which also included two floral design workshops led by Hothouse Designs in Birmingham on Thursday.

"Hopefully, we'll expand this and turn it into an annual event for the Carnegie," said Railey, who had never participated in this type floral interpretation of art before.

"The Huntsville Museum of Art has a big Art in Bloom fundraiser every spring, and I'd been invited to go over there," he said, "but I thought we could do it in Decatur, because we've got just as much talent here."

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