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Art in Bloom Revisits Black Mountain

Joyce Black-Woerz paints en plein air during Art In Bloom. Photo by Joye Ardyn Durham

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts (BMCA) is ushering in its 11th annual Art in Bloom, a flower-filled event that will take place June 15, 16 and 17, followed by an exhibit of plein air paintings through July 21. This multi-faceted event includes two different gallery shows, a display of floral arrangements, a gala and a garden tour.

It all starts with artwork on loan from regional galleries curated by BMCA executive director Gale Jackson. “The generosity and collaboration of our partnering galleries and the diversity of art work they provide is always amazing,” says Jackson, who has shepherded this evolving event since its inception in 2006. “The art is beautiful and evocative, but what sets this event apart year after year is how the floral designers interpret the art.”

Norma Bradley and Sally Wheeler coordinate the 22 floral designers who create the exquisite arrangements. “What always excites me is experiencing art-inspiring art and the unexpected use of interesting materials and forms,” says Bradley, a respected Ikebana master teacher who has been involved with BMCA’s Art in Bloom for the past 11 years. “The approach of the Ikebana artists and Western-style artists is different and both are so engaging. I return again and again making new discoveries each visit.”

In keeping with the spirit of the 11th year, there will be 11 western designers and 11 Ikebana designers creating magnificent floral arrangements. The freshly created floral arrangements are the focus of the Gala Preview Dinner Party, Thursday, June 15, at 6 p.m. “The excitement during the Preview Party just permeates the whole building as the entire exhibit is revealed for the first time,” says Jackson. “Guests are able to take their time and really study the pairings of art with the inspired floral designs.”

This year’s party will include grilled salmon, a wide variety of farm-to-table veggies and sides, craft brews and wine—all to be enjoyed al fresco or inside the Art Center’s transformed theater space. Guests will also enjoy specially designed flavors of Ultimate ice cream for dessert.

Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, offer guests the option to view the floral designs only ($5) or combine the gallery show with a local Cottage Garden Tour (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., $20) over the course of both days. Five gardens have been selected for this tour, which requires guests to drive to each separate location. Maps can be picked up when tickets are purchased at the Arts Center on the day of the tour. Once at the gardens, guests will witness plein air, or open air, painters translating nature to canvas.

“We have 20 plein air artists this year including Ann Vasilik, Cheryl Keefer and Susan Sinyai, all of whom have a wealth of experience and are so excited to spend time in these cottage gardens and share their process with guests,” says artist Karen Paquette, organizer of this element of the event.

Following the Art in Bloom weekend, the work of the plein air painters from the Garden Tour will be installed and on display in the Upper Gallery June 20 through July 21, an exhibit free and open to the public.

Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 West State Street. Tickets to the Gala Preview are $50, the Garden Tour is $20, and ‘gallery only’ is $5. Viewing the plein air paintings in Upper Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 828.669.0930 or visit

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