The making of ‘Bouquets to Art’ 

The de Young Museum’s wildly popular annual flower festival, “Bouquets to Art,” this year precedes the big Impressionist exhibit from Paris’ Musée d’Orsay coming in May, so the theme is “French Impressions.”

Running Tuesday through April 24, the 26th annual show featuring floral arrangements by some 150 local, national and international designers also serves as a major fundraiser. In 25 years, the San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums’ project has attracted more than a half-million visitors, raising $4.52 million.

Planning and work on “Bouquets,” in which designers’ creations reflect and interpret art pieces in the museum’s permanent collection, began months ago.

Judy Ward of Novato — designer of an arrangement inspired by the oil painting “Easter Morning (Portrait at a New York Window)” by Frederick Childe Hassam in Gallery 28B — is putting the experience of 15 consecutive years of “Bouquets” participation to good use.

Unlike many big commercial designers at the show, Ward describes herself as “an individual floral design enthusiast” who takes great pride in landscaping and has almost an acre for her flowers and plants in her garden at home.

She finds that the pressure “to be creative” builds up as showtime approaches while she analyzes the content and message of the museum artwork assigned to her. At the same time, she must follow strict guidelines regarding allowed materials.

Another interesting aspect of the process deals with the endurance of a design.

“I create the most artful presentation I can conceive, keeping in mind that for the next six days, thousands of people will be passing by my exhibit and the strain on the flowers will be severe,” Ward says.

During the show, designers return several times to water and freshen the flowers. When it’s over, they must break down and remove the exhibits, returning each space to its original condition.

Visitors in the market for beautiful but somewhat tired flowers may want to hang around the museum on closing day.

Bouquets to Art

De Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Tuesday through April 22 and April 24; 9:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. April 23
Tickets: $20 general, $17 seniors, $16 youths, free for children under 13
Contact: (415) 750-3600,

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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