The Concord Garden Club’s “Art & Bloom” turns 20 this weekend

  • The 20th annual “Art & Bloom” show is available for viewing at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Exhibition Gallery in downtown Concord on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Courtesy photo. Courtesy—

  • The 20th annual “Art & Bloom” show is available for viewing at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Exhibition Gallery in downtown Concord on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Courtesy photo. Courtesy—

  • The 20th annual “Art & Bloom” show is available for viewing at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Exhibition Gallery in downtown Concord on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Courtesy photo. Courtesy—

  • The 20th annual “Art & Bloom” show is available for viewing at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Exhibition Gallery in downtown Concord on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Courtesy photo. Courtesy—

  • Art & Bloom 2023. Courtesy—

  • Art & Bloom 2023. Courtesy—

  • Art & Bloom 2023. Courtesy—

  • An example of the work included in the Art & Bloom exhibit. Courtesy

For the Monitor
Published: 1/24/2023 2:00:13 PM

Chicken wire. Glass. Spray paint. Fabric. Acorns.

The Concord Garden Club’s floral arrangements, part of the 20th annual “Art & Bloom” exhibition at the League of NH Craftsmen gallery, are more avant-garde than what you’ll find at your local florist.

“We go a little outside the box,” said Barbara Jobin, a Concord Garden Club member, via phone. “This is an installation. If you’re doing an installation, you’re doing something more dramatic. It’s your interpretation of the art.”

For the floral artists, the purpose isn’t just to make a table pretty. It’s to provide a unique, floral interpretation to a work of art as part of the League’s “Continuing the Tradition” show at its Exhibition Gallery, which highlights fine craft in different media — fiber, wood, prints, furniture, metal, pottery, photography and glass — courtesy of newly-juried members of the League.

During her interview, Jobin was in the midst of putting together a different arrangement inside her Concord home alongside fellow Concord Garden Club member and “Art & Bloom” chair Millie LaFontaine. Outside, a winter storm was brewing, but inside, it was springtime, with brightly-colored flowers and greenery from Trader Joe’s spread atop the countertops.

This is one of the show’s charms. In the depths of winter, people can come and see something beautiful, reminding them that, soon enough, these cold months will recede and make way for warm, sunny days and spring blooms.

At the time, Jobin and LaFontaine had recently chosen the pieces they’d be using to inspire their floral creations, as had the rest of the Concord Garden Club participants. Next came the question of how? What kind of vessel should be used? Which colors? Which flowers? More importantly, what was even available at flower markets? At thrift stores? And which varieties would last long enough to look fresh over a three-day installation period?

Then comes the arranging itself, which is its own kind of art. Jobin prefers doing it atop a lazy susan, with floral foam inside her vessel to hold the stems in place. She starts with greens, which on this particular day were eucalyptus and wispy grasses. Typically, some of her greens come from the market and some from her backyard.

“My rule is that a flower never rests on a vase. A flower always rests on a green,” Jobin said, as she methodically stuck the stems into the foam, which, she explained, provides texture, depth, and balance to the piece. “It’s kind of like the flower’s border,” she said.

Then Jobin reached for the “focal flowers” for that arrangement, mini orange spray roses, followed by violet ranunculus, blue thistle, and bright red tulips, some of which she massaged to make fuller before inserting them in the vase.

Jobin runs her own floral and event business, The Shed Events, which involves teaching floral design workshops and creating arrangements on commission, but most “Art & Bloom” participants are simply enthusiastic amateurs looking to get their hands dirty before the spring thaw.

This year, LaFontaine says she’ll be teaming up with another Concord Garden Club member for her arrangement. Some of them tend to be literal about their interpretations, while others take the inspiration loosely, focusing more on the colors, the form, and the shape of a piece.

“The vessels can be key in creating a nice piece that really compliments what you’re trying to do. You can get one at Goodwill or the local antique mart. I have a friend whose basement I always check,” LaFontaine said, laughing.

LaFontaine said she doesn’t have any professional floral experience; she only learned about the garden club when she first attended the “Art & Bloom” event ten years ago, and the following winter, she volunteered to take part. She says it’s hard not to leave the event rejuvenated.

“This really is a breath of fresh air. People are always excited to come to the show and get revived,” LaFontaine said via phone. “It’s cold, miserable, and dark outside, and these present a whole new way of looking at the world.”

The 20th annual “Art & Bloom” show is available for viewing at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Exhibition Gallery in downtown Concord on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Continuing the Tradition,” which features work by newly-juried members of the League of NH Craftsmen, is on view at the Exhibition Gallery from Jan. 26 through March 30, with a free public reception on Friday, Jan. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m., at which artists will be present to talk about their processes.

For more information, visit nhcrafts.org or concordgardenclubnh.com.




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