Last week, I met a friend at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to check out their summer show, Van Gogh in Bloom. (One of our Summer Bucket List items.) After we both enjoyed delicious and healthy lunches of salad with salmon in the cafe (named one of the nation’s top museum restaurants by Food & Wine magazine), we took in the show. The creative team at Phipps did a a beautiful job of interpreting the artist’s work.
Starting in the lobby with Vincent’s self-portrait in a framed garden wall and continuing throughout the facility with room-filling interpretations, the show achieves its goal of bringing Van Gogh’s work to life. I highly recommend you check it out. I also highly recommend you choose a day when the temperature is not hovering around 90. Phipps’ lobby, gift shop, and cafe are air conditioned, but the rest of the rooms are designed to keep the plants happy! Let’s just say we got a little bit wilted at Van Gogh in Bloom.
Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat starts the show in the lobby. I love how the garden wall mimics the style of impressionist painting with plants standing in for palette knife daubs of paint. Further back, the form of the “painting” is clear, while close up you notice the individual plants.
This scene in the Serpentine Room might be my favorite. The painting is Wheat Fields with Cypresses and I love the way the gardeners covered the far wall with plants that look like the distant hills.
The Starry Night is another home run. Hanging orbs of flowers stand in for the stars and the moon and swaths of white flowers on the far wall appear to be the swirling clouds of the painting.
House at Auvers fills the South Conservatory and allows you to imagine that you are walking about the property Van Gogh captured in his painting.
You can visit these little fellows in the Butterfly Forest.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (until 10 p.m. on Fridays) and Van Gogh in Bloom continues through October 6. If you visit with children, be sure to ask for the free activity book, “On the Go with Van Gogh,” which will keep little ones entertained with a scavenger hunt through the displays. Tickets are $17.95 for adults, $16.95 for students and seniors, and $11.95 for children ages 2-18. For more information, visit phippsconservatory.org.