Floretum Garden Club marks 100 years with donation of public art to city

Details on the panels of the unveiled art promote the several variations on the theme of gardens, plants and their interrelationships with humans.

An estimated 60 citizens, city officials and Floretum Garden Club members gathered Monday afternoon at the corner of 6th and Bell in downtown Edmonds to unveil and dedicate the club’s commemorative gift to the city and citizens of Edmonds – a new public art installation celebrating gardens and floral beauty.

Titled “Fleuresscence,” the series of three mosaic sculptures is the latest addition to Edmonds’ growing public art collection and promises to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Kelly McHenry, chair of the Floretum committee that coordinated the project, introduces Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson.

“Today we donate this artwork to the City of Edmonds to celebrate the long and happy relationship the club has had with city over the past century,” said Floretum member Kelly McHenry, who chaired the committee responsible for the installation. “It would not have been possible without the generous help and cooperation from the city and the (Edmonds) Arts Commission.”

McHenry then introduced Mayor Mike Nelson, who expressed profuse thanks on behalf of the city, and echoed that it would not have been possible without the hard work of the city’s parks department and crews.

Nelson was followed by Edmonds Arts and Cultural Services Manager Frances Chapin, who particularly thanked McHenry for her active collaboration in bringing the project to fruition. “Floretum Garden Club has done a phenomenal job,” Chapin said.

As the ribbon falls, the three mosaic sculptures are unveiled.

“The impetus for this work is our club’s strong desire to give something permanent to the city in recognition and remembrance of Floretum’s role in the community for the past century,” remarked Floretum President Inae Piercy. “After much discussion, we decided that this should be a piece of public art, and today we see it come to reality.”

The final work is the result of a collaboration between mosaic artist Jennifer Kuhns and metal sculptor Abe Singer, who were selected by Floretum from a field of five applicants. The $20,000 project was funded by Floretum with grant assistance from the Hazel Miller Foundation, the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation, and the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs.

The three mosaic sculptures are designed to be viewed from all sides.

“I have extensive gardens myself,” said Kuhns, “so for me it’s a natural match. I like doing garden-themed artwork.”

“For me, it was a new experience collaborating with Jennifer on this,” added Singer. “I mostly do large works and specialize in floral themes. Doing a smaller-scale work like this was something new.”

Mosaic artist Jennifer Kuhn explains her work as metal sculptor Abe Singer listens.

A former plumber, Singer first met Kuhns more than a decade ago when he contracted to plumb in her new shower.

“I was actually transitioning out of plumbing and into art at the time,” he explained, adding that it was a bit serendipitous that they should come back together to work on this project.

Each of the pieces comprises three different “faces,” all presenting variations on the theme of gardens, flowers, and the intricate interrelationship between plants, peopleand the rest of the living world.

For Kuhns, working with Floretum, the City of Edmonds and the Edmonds Arts Commission was “a great dive” into this community.

A closer look at the artwork elements reveal their focus on gardens and plants.

“The best part of public art is that there’s something for everyone in each piece,” she observed. “When you see it, it’s a treasure hunt. There’s lots going on in these three pieces. I was particularly focused on the human relationship with nature, and specifically the reciprocal aspects of that relationship.”

For example, in the panels focusing on photosynthesis, Kuhns depicts images of the sun’s rays falling on plants and becoming foliage, and how she transitions between them so “you can’t really tell where one ends the other begins.” Other panels focus on pollination, water in the garden, gardens at night, and more.

“The location at the corner of 6th and Bell will only add to the public’s year-round enjoyment of this work,” remarked Edmonds Arts Commission Chair Rhonda J. Soikowski. “I love the interplay of colors and light in this area. In summer it will be shaded by the overhanging trees, in fall the leaves will drop and add visual interest, and in winter the weaker light and bare branches will create an entirely new effect. Every time someone walks by, they’ll rediscover it.”

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Wonderful project. So amazing. Congratulations to the Arts Commission and the city of Edmonds.
    I sometimes visit Edmonds and love all their public art projects

  2. I attended the unveiling of the mosaics yesterday and was inspired by the people and process that took place in order for this to happen.

    I am a proud member of Floretum and several people worked very hard to commemorate our 100 year anniversary.

    Thank you for these beautiful pieces of art to be enjoyed in the future.

  3. What a lovely addition to our community. Many thanks to Floretum for their long time, positive contributions to Edmonds. We appreciate all you have done and continue to do. Keep helping us work together for our city.

  4. Very beautiful, both in artistry and fabrication– I hope the pieces aren’t too vulnerable to potential damage/graffiti, etc. in their current location

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