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Channelling Georgia O’Keeffe

July 17th, 2017

Photo courtesy of Lauren Pincente.

The AGO’s popular exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe, is only in Toronto until July 30, so time is running out to see this once-in-a-lifetime, career-spanning collection of over 80 works (if you haven’t seen it yet – get tickets now!)

But once Georgia O’Keeffe is over, how can you keep some of her visual inspiration around in your own home? We spoke to Lauren Pincente, Toronto florist and owner of Wildhood in The Junction, to get her thoughts on Georgia O’Keeffe’s famous use of flowers in her paintings, and talk about her own O’Keeffe-inspired arrangement.

AGO: Can you tell us about some of the flowers in this arrangement?
Lauren: The arrangement is a mix of Ontario wildflowers – like coreopsis or feverfew – that were either farmed by Jessica Gale of the ecologically-focused Sweet Gale Gardens in Flamborough, ON or were foraged from the Wildhood backyard [Wildhood has a back patio and alleyway Lauren uses to grow greenery and wildflowers]. Additionally, I added in a white lily – a flower O’Keeffe favours in her work – and made a seasonal substitution for amaryllis with pink peonies from a family-run farm in Dundas, ON.

AGO: How do you think Georgia O’Keeffe saw flowers differently from most people?
Lauren: I think the fact that O’Keeffe even noticed flowers and spent her life painting them is different from most people. Two of her quotes perfectly encompass how in tune she was with nature and how she recognized that most people walk past them without noticing. One of the quotes is so perfect: “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Almost daily in the shop I hear people say “Flowers die too soon.” or “Flowers are a waste of money.” But if you really look at a flower and think about how nature made those oranges and reds and pinks with perfectly scalloped edges from bulbs and dirt, and understand the time that went into their growth and that a farmer cut their garden away for your enjoyment, you really appreciate the time it takes for the flower to grow and you really see flowers. O’Keeffe understood that.

AGO: What was your biggest inspiration in creating this arrangement?
Lauren: Honestly, I’m inspired by the farmers who put all their faith into their gardens not knowing how their flowers will turn out each season. It’s a total leap of faith and a commitment to beautify the landscape around you. I don’t know if this is reaching, but I imagine painting to be a lot like flower- arranging – you always start out with an idea of the colours you’re going to be using and what you’re going to be creating but it never turns out exactly how you think it will.

Have you made your own O’Keeffe-inspired bouquet? Share your photos with the hashtag #OkeeffeAGO and tell us what you did!

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