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Pittsburgh Tribune Review coverage of Phipps Summer Show

May 16, 2011

New summer flower show blooms at Phipps

By Kate Guerriero, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, Sunday, May 15, 2011

“Four of these mannequins have already been claimed!” laughed Jon Withrowof the faux fashionistas donning formalwear made of dried plant material, a dinner party scene he and Bill Kolano co-designed with fellow collaborators for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens new summer flower show,“Living Harmoniously with Nature.”

“Each took 10 to 12 hours to complete using hot glue and liquid silicone. There were lots of burned fingers!” he explained.

Interior designers hailing from our Three Rivers collaborated with the landscape architects and horticulturists at Phipps to create whimsical installations based on an idea conceived by Becky Jarold that challenged designers to present sustainable materials in a new way.

“Sustainable materials don’t have to be boring … they can be exciting and fun,” explained Vicci Franz.

Guests enjoyed one jaw-dropping scene after another during the patron preview party on Thursday with the likes of Executive Director Richard Piacentini and board Chair Chuck Brodbeck.

Read more: New summer flower show blooms at Phipps – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Phipps show promotes use of sustainable materials
By Kellie B. Gormly, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, Friday, May 13, 2011
Living Harmoniously with Nature’

What: Phipps Summer Flower Show

When: Saturday-Sept. 27. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and until 10 p.m. Fridays.

Admission: $12; $11 for age 62 and older, and students with ID; $9 for ages 2-18

Where: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Oakland

Details: 412-622-6914 orwebsite
About the writer
Kellie B. Gormly is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer and can be reached at 412-320-7824 or via e-mail.

When people hear the word “sustainable,” they might think of drab, shabby buildings and products — an image that officials at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens hope to dispel with the Summer Flower Show opening Saturday.

This year’s annual show, titled “Living Harmoniously with Nature,” features a palette of colorful summer flowers — like dahlias, hibiscus, impatiens, zinnias and lantana — mixed with funky art pieces made out of sustainable materials in several rooms throughout the Oakland conservatory. The first thing visitors will see is Crafton artist Noelle Weaver’s giant sculpture in Phipps’ Welcome Center. The structure represents a Native American healing wheel that touches on four elements of nature: water, sun, wind and earth. Guests can write their promises to the planet on recycled tags and attach them to the sculpture.

Weaver, 34, wants people to “think about what we can do to heal the Earth,” she says.

For this show, Phipps officials challenged Pittsburgh-area interior designers to partner with Phipps horticulturists and landscape architects to create beautiful gardens with sustainable materials, says spokeswoman Liz Fetchin. The results stand throughout the conservatory, with items like two chairs made out of old stop signs in the Palm Court. Giant, colorful flowers made out of bamboo hang over the Sunken Garden, while a topiary panda bear nibbles on bamboo stalks below the flowers.

“I think that the Sunken Garden room is really fun for kids,” Fetchin says. “It’s very colorful … and otherwordly.”

Other notable features include the East Room, where visitors walk into a cartoonish scene reminiscent of “Alice in Wonderland,” with giant, bright blooms made out of materials like linoleum and resin. The Victoria Room features an aquatic version of a Victorian-era sitting room with glass mosaic pillows. The South Conservatory, with a farm-to-feast theme, features a formal vegetable garden with lettuce, kale and more (sorry; no nibbling allowed). On the central platform in this room stand green mannequins dressed in leaves and other plant materials, Adam and Eve style. A decorated kitchen table stands in the middle of the display, which includes topiaries such as a tabletop cat and frolicking dogs.

Fetchin says she hopes the show’s artwork will inspire people, as it is made out of materials they otherwise would discard.

“Sustainable doesn’t have to be boring,” she says. “We wanted to bring light to the fact that sustainable can be beautiful … and colorful.

“We want to inspire people to go green in their daily habits,” Fetchin says.

Read more: Phipps show promotes use of sustainable materials – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review