Total floral immersion experience at Featherstone

Jules Worthington's "Rose Interior." — Photo by Ralph Stewart

After witnessing a parade of bright spring fashions at the Featherstone Annual Fashion Show and Tea Party, many of the guests trampled through the rain to enjoy a sneak peak at the gallery’s latest show. The total floral immersion experience, which can be enjoyed through next week, was more than enough to brighten up the gloomy day.

For the 18th year, guest curator Holly Alaimo celebrates spring with the annual Art of Flowers show. For the first 14 years, the show was a regular highlight at Dragonfly Gallery, Ms. Alaimo’s former business. When she sold the gallery in 2009, the show was moved to Featherstone.

There are 60 people represented in the show, including a couple of artisans. “It’s always a special show,” says Ms. Alaimo, “because it really is the first burst of color for the season.”

Painter John Holladay’s spray of bright pink echinaceas across a vibrant green field greets viewers as they walk in the door. Next to this large colorful acrylic work hangs a unique checkerboard painting by Rosalie Shane, made up of a pink bordered grid with a different flower in each block. These two works herald a spectacle that surrounds the viewer with all the colors of nature.

Walk into the main room and you’re greeted by a firework display of spring and summer. Curator Holly Alaimo arranged the work according to color. An orange wall is particularly striking with a large extreme closeup photo on canvas of a day lily by Harvey John Beth jumping off the wall. Clair Chalfoun’s lovely still life of pink and purple gladiolas keep up the wall’s orange theme with an unexpected salmon background. It’s a surprising color combination that works really well.

A charming portrait by Ruth Major, called “Gabriel’s Gift,” features her grandson with a scratch on his nose proudly holding up a bouquet of orange tulips stolen from a neighbor’s yard.

The orange theme continues around the corner to an adjacent wall with a spectacular painting called “Squibby Cliff” by Valentine Estabrook. The large oil features a spray of peach dune flowers set against the blue of sea and sky. Two other eye-catchers share that wall space including a lovely semi-abstract by Edith Yoder and a huge still life by Genevieve Jacobs who has used collaged paper to create painterly looking yellow roses and bits and scraps of patterned paper to add interest to a tall blue vase.

A yellow themed wall includes a wonderful oil painting by May French featuring a spiky design of yellow wildflowers and green grass. A purply pastel wall includes a pretty watercolor of hydrangeas by Nancy Kingsley and one of Peggy Zablotny’s classic pressed flower creations.

One wall features work by a number of Island photographers including an attractive multi-paneled work of individual flowers by Uta Kloss. There are a couple of other interesting photos scattered around the gallery including a vintage looking black and white pinhole camera photo of tulips by Samuel West Hiser.

An interesting oil by Doris Lubell is somewhat of a departure for the show. It portrays Flora, the goddess of flowers, done in dark colors, which makes the model’s small bouquet of bright orange flowers jump out at the viewer.

The back room includes a number of treasures including an impressionistic watercolor bouquet by Anne Gallagher, sunflowers by Clara Kisko, zinnias by Judy Hatch, and a striking Van Gogh-influenced oil by Teresa Yuan of pink magnolias against a vibrant yellow background.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the swirl of bright colors in the show, but take some time to look closely. There are a number of smaller paintings that could easily get missed in a hasty survey. Heidi House used actual flowers as a medium for a small three-dimensional baroque style piece. She made a paste of ground-up flowers to create a painting on tapestry, which is embellished with velvet cords and a velvet frame.

Linda Thompson and Elizabeth Lockhart Taft contributed two lovely tiny oils hanging near the door. Pastels by painting partners Jerry Messman and Pat Albee make a nice matched set.

In addition to the art work, artisan Joan Hewson displays felt work, including a lily adorned bag; there is lovely wampum flower jewelry by Joan LeLacheur; and a daisy tic-tac-toe board with painted pebbles by Cammie Naylor.

Visiting the bucolic Featherstone campus with its rolling meadows and colorful plantings is always a treat, even more so now when the beauty of nature can be found both indoors and out.

The Art of Flowers with Guest Curator Holly Alaimo continues through May 29, open 12 noon to 4 pm daily. For more information, call 508-693-1850 or visit