Fairy Tales and Storybook Scenes Blossom at Meadow Brook’s Art in the Elements
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 23, 2020)
Rochester Hills, MI – With corners made of orange and yellow verigated croton leaves and stunning red carnations, and a fringe made of the softest foxtail strands, Rae Roberts-Griffith’s homage to Aladin’s magic carpet seemed to float among the trees at Meadow Brook for their annual Art in the Elements fundraiser.
The event gathers floral artists from across the country to create ornate designs centered around a theme, to decorate the woods of the historic estate. Visitors make a donation to support the upkeep of the home and the property, and they enjoy an enchanting stroll through the seemingly-magical forest.
This year’s Storybooks and Fairytales theme gave some inner children a chance to play, with the artists imagining to life tributes to stories like Hansel and Gretel, Charlotte’s Web, Snow White, Mary Poppins, Robin Hood and more. Even DragonballZ made an appearance, with a line of of bright red floral orbs representing a stream of fireballs, that also happened to delight a friendly neighborhood pollinator or two.
Roberts-Griffith’s Aladin was a project that required thoughtful planning and plenty of patience.
“The carpet was made on a wire and felt base and used over 300 red,orange and hot pink carnations along with over 500 yellow chrysanthemum blooms and purple statice all glued with a special floral glue to the frame,” she said. “The fringe of the rug is foxtail grass harvested from my weed patch! IThe “clouds” consist of Autumn clematis and babies breath. used 18 tubes of glue to construct the rug and took approximately 26 hours to complete. ”
The artist retired after a long and successful career in Springfield, IL where she ran her own flower shop and was even was inducted into American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) and the same year was named Illinois designer of the Year. Though he’s officially retired, he will bring out the pruning shears and glue gun for good causes.
“I decided to do Aladdin because I wanted a story that people are familiar with. I’ve always loved the story and the thought of having a magic carpet that could take you anywhere you wanted to go high above the clouds fascinated me as a child on the same vein as we all wanted to be tinker bell who flitted around throwing fairy dust!”
Another dreamy display set to whisk one away from the cares of the world was Bedknobs and Broomsticks created by Robbin Yelverton and Jerome Raska, proprietors of Blumz byJRDesigns with locations in Detroit, Ferndale, and Holly. For this they brought in an actual brass bed and poised it to glide up into the air, accompanied by broomsticks as intricately lovely as bouquets. A British flag gave nod to the classic tale’s origin.
“We wanted to use a collection of bold colors so that would stand out in the natural setting that it is placed in, and at the same time products that would hold up for the length of the exhibit,” Raska told Oakland County Times. “Many people walked up and said they knew what this was just looking at it; they didn’t even have to read the sign, which in my opinion was a compliment to our design.”
Blumz is a preferred vendor at Meadow Brook, which is often the site of weddings and other gatherings. Plus the designers also simply love to support the arts, and places of beauty and learning. “We love being able to support Meadow Brook Hall and it’s amazing history.”
Abbey Sexton claimed a spot with a hallowed-out tree trunk and created The Giving Tree.
“The Giving Tree holds a special place in my heart because it was one of my mom’s favorites to read to my sisters and I as a kid,” Sexton said. “She raised us all to give lots, and to love lots. The story itself has been torn apart by psychologists throughout the years, but I still feel that the overall message is beautiful.”
In the Shel Silverstein story, a boy visits a tree through the years, taking pieces of it to use in building his life. With the Art in the Elements experience, Sexton added a touch of Mother Nature to her own life, but also gave more back to the forest than the boy in the book, as the event helps sustain Meadow Brook and it’s lovely grounds. Words penned in cursive on slips of paper shared wishes like “love,” “peace,” and “joy” with the attendees.
“This show was my first opportunity to work on such a large scale project with my own creative vision,” she said. “I have attended the event in the past and was very excited to be invited to my own piece this year! It was challenging and new and I was so excited to dive right in!
“One of the most rewarding parts of completing my Giving Tree design was interacting with attendants of the show and answering their questions, and hearing their take on the giving tree. It was also very rewarding to be surrounded by so many talented and experienced designers & artists who helped me bring my vision together.”
The 21 year old designer has been sweeping floors and working her way up since she was 15 years old and helping out at her aunt’s flower shop in Canton – Keller & Stein Florists.
Her plans are as rich and lovely as her design. “I aspire to open my very own sustainable flower shop with a focus on environmentally sound product & production after I earn my Undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in Business Management with a minor in Art,” she said. “I would say that the most rewarding work of practicing floristry is that you are aiding in celebrating personal events with customers, whether it is simply a new promotion at work or their wedding day. It is also so rewarding to be surrounded by color, life, and creativity all the time.”
While the Art in the Elements exhibit only lasted one weekend, the beauty lives on in the memories of those who were able to make the stroll, plus a bit in some of our pictures. Thanks to artists/designers: Laura Parker (Charlotte’s Web), Art into Flowers (Rango), Cathy Brunk (Little Red Riding Hood), Laura Daluga (Spirited Away), Rae Roberts-Griffith (Aladdin), Liz Stocker (Enchanted Forest), Jerome Raska and Robbin Yelverton (Bed Knobs and Broomsticks), Debbie Strand (Thunderbird), Garret Skupinski (Mirror of Matsuyama), Courtney Turner (Tangled), Deb Schwarze (Itsy Bitsy Spider), Abbey Sexton (The Giving Tree), Art Bone and Collette McClinton (Hansel and Gretel), Cher Daluga (The Secret Garden), Emily Bianchette and Fioza Leigh (Snow White), Pattie Wellander (Maleficent), David Thompson (Robin Hood), and Patricia Huggins (Mary Popppins).
Learn more about Meadow Brook Hall at https://meadowbrookhall.org/