More than pretty petals

Anna-Maria Stromberg happily poses in front of her beautiful photograph titled, "Crunch."

There’s a lot more than pretty pictures to this year’s Art of Flowers show at Featherstone. Along with over 100 works of art, the show also includes some wonderful displays by some of the Island’s premiere decorators.

Holly Alaimo, who has curated the annual show for over 25 years, wanted to mix things up a bit this year. She invited four different design concerns to provide a sample room featuring, of course, flowers in one form or another.

Although each designer honored the theme in one way or another, each of the displays showcases flowers in subtle, unique ways.

For example, Mary Rentschler, co-owner of Lake Street Studio along with partner John Fuller, chose to add a few floral touches to her fun, contemporary look. Her nook is highlighted by a backdrop covered with a fabulous hand-painted rice paper wall covering by Porter Teleo. The abstract design in sage green, gray, and cream gives a modern look to her sample room. An antique clawfoot bathtub is the focal point of an eclectic array of small pieces, including an elephant-shaped end table, a four-panel screen painted by artist Alan Whiting, and an outdoor bistro table and chairs. Floral touches include bright pink kimonos from Morrice Florist, black-and-white photos by Lara Forte, and a peony print silk scarf and cell phone covers designed by Carly Simon. As with all of the designers, Rentschler and Fuller are offering everything in the display for sale.

Tracker Home Décor chose a beautiful, intricately carved white four-panel screen as the highlight of their display, which features modern furnishings in neutrals with a pop of peach. Flowers come into the equation in the form of some framed three-dimensional floral multimedia pieces and lots of orchids. and a pretty floral design pillow.

Bespoke Abode used a series of round wood-framed mirrors to help define a contemporary rustic look featuring furniture in simple lines, a stacked basket corner ladder piece, log side table, and a sheepskin-covered hassock.

Linda Carnegie and Nancy Blair of Carnegie Blair Designs let the flowers speak for themselves by using their own line of placemats and floorcloth, featuring big, bright blooms for their dining room display. The design team also used cut flower arrangements to complete the scene for a very inviting setting they titled “Lunch at the Conservatory.”

The remainder of the gallery is flooded with vibrant color. The collection is arranged by hue — pinks, oranges, blues clustered together for maximum impact. One corner space features a variety of work in cotton-candy pink. Anna-Maria Stromberg has provided an extra-large photo on aluminum of a peony, Kathy Poehler has designed flowers from seaweed in shades of pink, and Marston Clough has created a series of small paintings incorporating bits of actual flowers. Nancy Blank’s “Pink Echo One” is an abstraction that Alaimo describes as “a very close encounter with a pink petal.”

An orange section features a couple of poppy paintings, and a wonderfully detailed decoupage glass bowl by Erica Kuryla, with birds and flowers decorating the interior and a black, white, and gold pattern on the outside. Some of the more creative approaches to the theme include steel flowers by Gabriel Bellebuono, small boxes topped with enamel art inserts by Lucinda Sheldon, and beautiful handmade paper images by Sandy Bernat, in which flowers incorporated in the papermaking process have transferred their color in interesting ways.

The lofty Francine Kelly Gallery is filled with many more interpretations of flowers in every color. The show has always attracted a large number of participants. “Every artist has work with a flower in one form or another,” says Alaimo. “What I love most about Featherstone is that I’m hanging established artists with new artists. It’s a true art community that I love.”


“The Art of Flowers,” with guest curator Holly Alaimo, hangs at Featherstone through May 27. Hours are 12 to 4 pm daily, and admission is free. 

This article by Gwyn McAllister originally appeared on