Art to bloom at Port Angeles Fine Arts Center starting today (Friday)
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Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News
Mary Lou Paulson, left, and Bernice Cook, both of Port Angeles, are two of the floral designers showing their work in Art in Bloom, the display at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center today through Sunday.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Marylee “Mim” Foley had a talent for making people feel welcome.

“She always brought out your best qualities,” said her friend Bernice Cook of Port Angeles.

“Mim had a deep appreciation for all kinds of art . . . and she wanted to bring all ages together in an art environment,” Cook added.

Foley was the woman behind Art in Bloom, the annual combining of visual art and floral design at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, which was among her favorite places.

She came up with the idea of having local garden club members respond to the center's art exhibits — in the form of spring flower arrangements.

Unfurling again

Today, four years after Foley's death, Art in Bloom is opening again.

Cook and seven other designers from as far away as Marrowstone Island are constructing floral designs in answer to the current art show, “Surroundings: Painting Nature's Chaos,” an exhibit of 19 multipaneled works by Oregon artist Greg Navratil.

The flowers, freshly arranged this morning, will be on display through Sunday in this 11th annual Mother's Day event.

Admission is free at the fine arts center, open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., and “it's kind of like a Monet setting right now,” said Cook.

Her plans include lobelia, daisies, chrysanthemums and perhaps some fern in response to Navratil's paintings of water, leaves and light.

Art in Bloom's floral designers also include Sue Conklin of Port Townsend, Laurie Tillman and Billie Fitch of Nordland, Judi McClanahan of Forks and Patty Wheatley, Linda Nutter, Mary Lou Paulson and Mary Lou Waitz, all of Port Angeles.

Nature's puzzle

This flower-arranging thing may seem like a walk in the park. But when you're faced with “Nature's Chaos,” it's a puzzle, said Waitz, who organizes the project with Cook.

“I love the driftwood piece he did, but I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to do it in flowers,” she added, referring to Navratil's painting titled “Beach Obstacles.”

The challenge also keeps Fitch coming back, and “this year, the colors are really bright,” she said.

Fitch envisions an arrangement of red, orange and yellow lilies; Gerbera daisies; gladiolus; and masses of chrysanthemums and carnations.

“It's going to be big,” she promised.

Fitch has designed for Art in Bloom for at least five years, while Waitz has partaken since the show's beginnings in 2004.

Honoring friends

She returns each time to honor Foley, who died in June 2010, and now her surviving husband, Charles “Bud” Foley.

He welcomes the designers to the fine arts center every spring and takes them to lunch.

“It's my obligation,” Waitz said, “to make sure Mim's idea isn't lost.”

After some thought, Waitz said that in her floral design, she wants to use some driftwood — like Navratil, she loves it — along with some graceful calla lilies.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: May 08. 2014 5:42PM
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