Flower power WAG’s perennially popular exhibit delivers burst of spring colour

It’s about blooming time!

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/03/2022 (185 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s about blooming time!

Art in Bloom, the Winnipeg Art Gallery event at which volunteers use flowers to interpret works of art on display, returns Friday evening and runs until Sunday.

Art preview

Art in Bloom

● Winnipeg Art Gallery

● Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The splashes of colour and fragrance that Art in Bloom provides couldn’t come at a better time. This winter’s endless snowfall has meant April’s arrival leaves Winnipeg in a beige hue: dirty piles of snow refusing to melt, streets and sidewalks of dull, grey ice and slush, and, if it ever warms up, mud everywhere you turn.

”It’s a celebration of spring,” says Andrea Cibinel, who along with Esme Scarlett, is co-chairing the gallery fundraiser.

Jessica Lee JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Art in Bloom co-chairs Andrea Cibinel (left) and Esme Scarlett at Winnipeg Art Gallery in front of their flower installation and the painting that inspired it.

“I get (flowers) for my mother for Mother’s Day, I receive them for my birthday, for Valentine’s Day, at a time for grief and sorrow, engagements, weddings. Flowers are made to celebrate, whether you celebrate life or new beginnings or ends of chapters.

“You need flowers to express that emotion.”

Art in Bloom is held every two years in the spring, but the 2021 event was moved to this weekend, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That means this year’s Art in Bloom will be the first to include Qaumajuq, the gallery’s new addition devoted to Inuit art and the people who create it, as well as interpretations of works from its inaugural exhibition, Inua.

Jessica Lee JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A flower display for Art in Bloom at Winnipeg Art Gallery. Art in Bloom is held every two years in the spring.

It will also be the largest Art in Bloom in the event’s history, thanks to all the extra space and art on display in Qaumajuq. Cibinel and Scarlett estimate more than 20,000 blooms will be used to decorate the 95 works that have been chosen for interpretation.

“It will be so much more than it was before, because we have so much more building than we had before,” Cibinel says.

Among the works chosen for Art in Bloom include an Inuit tunic, part of Inua, that includes intricate blooms made of sealskin. It is a piece the Associates, a volunteer committee of WAG supporters that is presenting Art in Bloom, have arranged to purchase for the gallery’s permanent collection.

“It will be so much more than it was before, because we have so much more building than we had before.” – Andrea Cibinel

Another work receiving a flowery touch is Vallée, a 1950 surrealist painting by Quebec artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, which Cibinel and Scarlett have taken on as their own artistic project.

“We selected that one because many years ago, the Associates did fundraising to support the purchase of that piece,” says Scarlett, who also co-chairs the Associates committee, which purchased Vallée in 1974.

“Pride in ownership,” Cibinel says.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A volunteer for the Winnipeg Art Gallery prepares bouquets to be sold at WAG’s Art in Bloom event.

Several works in Qaumajuq will be part of Art in Bloom, and Scarlett says they provide their own challenges for interpretation.

“Some of the pieces in Qaumajuq would be very different than most of the pieces that have been interpreted in the past,” she says. “There will be more carvings that will be interpreted and there will be more textiles that will be interpreted, so it’s going to be very exciting.”

Ilavut, the Inuktitut name for Qaumajuq’s lobby, which will welcome visitors to Art in Bloom, will include a wall of roses installed by Petals West, the Winnipeg floral wholesaler that is an event sponsor.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS From left, Joan McCorrister, Cathy MacKinnon, Andrea Cibinel and Suzanne Du Plooy, volunteers for the Winnipeg Art Gallery, remove thorns from flowers to be used in bouquets at Petals West.

Nearby, another large floral installation acts as an indoor accompaniment for one of the large Inuit stone sculptures outside. Only Qaumajuq’s large window separates art from interpretation.

Afterward, the flowers will be repurposed and delivered to hospitals, health-care centres and personal-care homes in a partnership between Flora Philanthropy and the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Admission to Art in Bloom is included in a gallery admission and there will be floral-arrangement workshops held throughout the weekend, and floral bouquets of various sizes and colours will be on sale at Eckhardt Hall, the original gallery’s main lobby.

alan.small@winnipegfreepress.com

Twitter: @AlanDSmall

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Jessica Lee JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS "It’s a celebration of spring," says Andrea Cibinel, who along with Esme Scarlett, is co-chairing the gallery fundraiser.
Jessica Lee JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A flower display for Art in Bloom is photographed at Winnipeg Art Gallery on March 31, 2022.
Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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