The Art of Flowers

Courtesy of Lauren Adiova

The UC Irvine Arboretum had their annual Fall Art and Flower Festival on Oct. 20, showcasing “Living Art” of California.

Orange County Fine Arts, a local art guild, presented a show and sale featuring art inspired by California’s outdoors and wildlife. All artists featured in the show were juried artists that the OC Fine Arts both qualified and managed.

Marie Taggart, Dennie Hahn, Maria Elena Bicer, Marilou Hogeboom and other local artists were there to showcase and sell their work. Art styles ranged from oil painting, plein air (California Impressionism), jewelry, photography, digital media and many other artistic styles.

The art show, one of the Arboretum’s major events, has taken place for more than 10 years.

“Marie Taggart, one of the artists, was painting here one day. She was painting our wildflowers and I stopped to admire her work and we started talking and that’s how it all got started,” said Laura Lyons, Arboretum nursery manager and volunteer coordinator.

Marie Taggart added, “Usually it is just an invitational to people who like the garden. All of us belong to different groups. To paint with different people sometimes, it’s fun and we all get here together.”

The UCI Arboretum opened its $2 admission at 10 a.m. and continued to sell arts and plants until 3 p.m. Due to the rain clouds, people streamed in and out, a few at a time, of the arboretum, admiring the artwork.

The art show was held at the same time at the UCI Arboretum’s monthly plant sale and is one of the Arboretum’s six major plant sales of the year.

UCI students came at 7 a.m. to help the artists and Lyons set up for the event.

“We have students who volunteer here or take it as a class credit. We have Bio 197 where students weed and help out at the gardens and they get credit for it and then the other option is to do 199 with Dr. Bowler to do research and marsh work,” said Grace, a volunteer and biology major at UCI.

Plants sold at the sale match to the season they bloom and were selected according to popularity and availability. The Arboretum’s nursery grows many different yet easy to grow perennials, bulbs and succulents. In the fall, some of the plants that grow in the nursery are Creeping Cape Lilac (Plectranthus ciliates), Crassula “Campfire” and Moonlight Gladiolus (Gladiolus tristis).

Plants in the sale are both California native plants and South African plants. The fall season is the ideal time for planting California native material, which can last from October to January. According to five-year volunteer Marti Heard, a UCI professor introduced the South African plants to the nursery because Irvine and South Africa had the same latitude, making the plants native to South Africa easy to grow. Plants were priced at a range of $8 to $35, with most plants sold from $8 to $11.

Despite the stormy clouds and the fact that Interstate 73 was under construction, causing business to be slow, one artist was not deterred. Bicer, who paints both watercolors and oil paintings and fuses glass to make jewelry, was born in Argentina and did not become an artist until the age of 45 because her parents had objected to her desire to become an artist after high school. She only began to pursue her dream and study art when she found many beautiful paintings in a friend’s home by chance and was given an art set for Christmas.

Happy that she sold two paintings, Bicer stated, “There usually are more people, but I’m happy because it’s something to show what you do. I love to paint and I like everything that is art. That’s it. This is a dream come true.”

All proceeds from the plant sale support work done at the Arboretum, and the profit from the art sale went to the artists who, according to Lyons, usually make a donation as well.

Although the rain clouds remained in the sky for the whole five hours the Arboretum was open, people still came out to check out the nature-inspired art the artists worked hard on.

When asked if the event was a success, Lyons replied, “We’ve done pretty well today. I’m a little disappointed about the weather. I would’ve liked it to be a little bit sunnier. That tends to really bring out the crowd, but I think we’ve done quite nicely today.”