Most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival is going virtual again this year, but some new events are still going on, and some of them are in person.
One such event, Art in Bloom, features sculptures designed and dressed up by 25 different artists and placed all around D.C., including two at National Landing and one at National Harbor.
All of the artists who were chosen to participate got the same base to start with — which resembles a cross between a blooming blossom and a chair — and tapped into their creativity from there.
“They’re all 5-foot sculptures shaped like a giant cherry blossom,” said Diana Mayhew, the president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. “Each artist created a different design for them, and they’re so unique in their own way.”
“We have the creativity for 25 amazing artists that just brought the spirit of what they thought spring looked like to them,” she added. “They’re all very different, and they all have a special story to tell.”
Three of the sculptures are on display at the Smithsonian’s Haupt Gardens, and two of the artists were on hand Thursday to talk about their process.
Jalil Davis, of Northeast D.C., designed what he called “Blossoms on the Mall.” The blossom he designed is a radiant pink with the Jefferson Memorial in the middle on one side and the Washington Monument on the other.
“Throughout the year, the monuments and the memorials are sort of center stage in the city,” he said. “This one time of year, the cherry blossoms take center stage, and the memorials and the monuments become the background, so I wanted to emphasize that in my design.”
He said it took him about five minutes to come up with the basic design, and then about eight hours a day for five days to bring it to life.
“What will stand out when they see mine will be the bright pink colors that’s reminiscent of the cherry blossom; that’s what I wanted to emphasize,” said Davis.
A few feet away from his, with a much different design, is one created by Paige Friedeman of Gaithersburg.
“My piece is the chiyogami compilation, and it’s all fully hand-cut, folded and collaged origami paper to pay homage to the Japanese culture,” said Friedeman.
“I tried to relate it to the art of origami, so I folded it into geometric shapes to relate it to the types of folds you would see in an origami model. Then I hand-cut and placed and glued each piece into place one by one. It took eight days total.”
The sculptures sit in a quiet spot of the garden tucked between the National Mall and Independence Avenue, in a spot shielded off from the noise of the city and replaced with the tweeting of birds and the blooming of other flowers.
“It’s a wonderful way to welcome spring,” said Joy Columbus, with the Smithsonian Gardens. “The Smithsonian Gardens is delighted to have the National Cherry Blossom Festival and these wonderful sculptures here in Haupt Garden.”
The artists themselves are even more excited.
“I feel like I have made a life goal here,” Friedeman said. “I don’t have to do any more art shows. I’ve been at the Smithsonian. I can die a happy artist.”