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“Flowers Gone Wild” at Descanso Gardens

by Joan Keesey; photography by John Keesey, posted by Deb Shaw

Joan Keesey in Fern Canyon at Descanso Gardens with Coast Live Oaks

Joan Keesey in Fern Canyon at Descanso Gardens with Coast Live Oaks

Yesterday John and I visited Descanso Gardens to check out the two art exhibitions currently on display there. In the Sturt Haaga Gallery the exhibit, “The WILD Flowers”, is a collection of works by seventeen contemporary California artists. Concurrently, contemporary botanical illustrations are being presented in the Boddy House; these paintings are provided by five members of the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC): Joan Keesey, Sue Kuuskmae, Gilly Shaeffer, Janice Sharp, and Deborah Shaw.

It was a beautiful clear and crisp day, and although it is still winter, Descanso Gardens was very lovely; the magnificent Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia) provide the perfect canopy for the garden’s remarkable collection of Camellias, many of which were blooming.

Penelope Gottlieb, "Flowers Gone WILD"

Penelope Gottlieb, “Flowers Gone WILD”

I hadn’t really expected to like the exhibit, “The WILD Flowers”. I couldn’t conceive of how an artist could invent flowers that were more wild and astonishing than real flowers, but the pictures were very imaginative, technically accomplished, and fun. Many of them, like Potentilia multijuja by Penelope Gottlieb, included recognizable flowers and plants. I was told that Ms. Gottlieb always includes a flower that is no longer in existence.