Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ “Lunch in the Gardens” on Wednesday served several purposes: to entertain and enlighten, thanks to a “Flowers as Art in Paradise” demonstration by floral designer Ian Prosser; to raise money for Selby through sales at jewelry boutiques (and of Prosser’s on-the-spot creations) in the welcome center; and to announce the fourth annual exhibition in the Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, to take place Feb. 9, 2020, through June 30, 2020.
Last things first: The artist highlighted in the 2020 exhibition will be Salvador Dalí, in partnership with the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind, will include 10 photolithographs of flowers by Dalí along with works from photographer Clyde Butcher, who has a studio in Venice, titled Visions of Dali’s Spain. In addition to some works on loan from Sarasota collector Keith D. Monda, the Dalí works on view will be accompanied by special horticultural displays of Selby’s tropical flowers; artifacts and photos that put the artist’s life, work and relationship with nature into context; and Dali-themed lectures, performances, family programs, special tours and more. Dalí merchandise will be for sale in the Garden Shop and food venues will offer a thematic menu.
Selby Garden’s president and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki says, “We are thrilled to partner with The Dalí in St. Petersburg and Clyde Butcher on this amazing exhibition at our living museum.” The exhibit will highlight the artist’s repeated use of botanical imagery in the series FlorDalí, including a rose sprouting butterfly wings, a lily’s similarity to a gramophone horn, and a common dahlia morphing into a unicorn-like beast.
While that show is months away, designer Prosser put on quite a show at the luncheon himself, entertaining with anecdotes about his work for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton and both inaugurations of President George W. Bush while creating floral showpieces at the same time, blending orchids, anthuriums, heliconia and other plants into spectacular combinations. He also informed the crowd that there are basically five types of floral personalities: traditional, dramatic, artistic, romantic and natural or outdoorsy—leaving each guest to wonder which he or she is.
Prosser also told an anecdote about the woman he called his favorite client, one with a Sarasota connection: the late singer Donna Summer. He was responsible for the flowers at the wedding of her daughter Amanda at Summer’s Manasota Key home, and after a long, exhausting day, he says, Summer said she was hungry and asked him if he would like her to make him a tuna sandwich, too. She did.
For more information about the Dalí exhibition, visit selby.org.