“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.

Gary Brewer, "Flowers Gone WILD"

Gary Brewer, “Flowers Gone WILD”

Maura Bendett, "Flowers Gone WILD"

Maura Bendett, “Flowers Gone WILD”

There was one video that had bubble-gum and aqua colored slime dripping from slowly opening lilies—not sure what that was all about.

Sue Kuuskmae in the Gunroom.

Sue Kuuskmae in the Gunroom.

The botanical paintings by BAGSC members were very thoughtfully displayed and illuminated in the Hall and the Gunroom of the Boddy House. Without knowing that I was involved the docent was very enthusiastic about and complementary of our

More Action in the Gunroom -- Gilly Shaeffer & Janice Sharp.

More Action in the Gunroom — Gilly Shaeffer & Janice Sharp.

pictures. Several visitors took pictures of our pictures. I am impressed and proud that BAGSC has been able to provide quality paintings for the three concurrently running botanical exhibitions in Southern California: “Botanical Visions” at the San Diego Botanical Garden, “Drought Tolerant Beauty” at Chapman University, and “Contemporary Botanical Illustrations” at Descanso Gardens.