After a pause during the pandemic, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art brought back its annual Art in Bloom summer garden party June 20, celebrating nearly 20 area garden club designers who riffed off works in the museum using flowers, seed pods, driftwood and other organic matter.

“Horticulture societies and florists come do arrangements inspired by the art,” said Pam Saywer, a museum board member from Ogunquit. “And I think this has been our best year yet.”

More than 100 party guests – including those who were intrigued by the event listing on Facebook – viewed the art-and-floral pairings, then spilled outdoors where the Dry Martini Jazz Trio played on the edge of the vast lawn. Guests enjoyed a sunny Sunday afternoon of cocktails and light fare in the museum’s seaside sculpture gardens.

“It’s an opportunity to come together and to get people out to see the museum, an incredible gem on the southern coast of Maine,” said Executive Director Amanda Lahikainen.

Indoors, guests had a chance to vote on their favorite floral interpretation. The 2021 Visitors Choice award was presented to Merle Schlesinger of Portsmouth Garden Club for her Japanese-inspired floral interpretation of “Gathering Clouds,” an oil painting by Gwendolyn Kyle.

The first runner-up was Cynthia Hosmer of Piscataqua Garden Club for her floral spinoff of “Untitled (Aspen Trees),” an oil painting by Marcia Oakes Woodbury. The second runner-up award went to docents Linda Payne-Sylvester and Audrey Grumbling for their wildflowers-on-the-roadside riff off Jo Sandman’s sculpture “Continuities,” which was inspired by radiators cast about at a mechanic shop.

Outdoors, the winners in the only slightly less competitive hat competition were Peter Hazlett and Meredith Davis of Portland in his-and-her wearable floral sculptures. The imagination behind the hats, he said, was all hers.

“It’s wonderful to see people in person again,” said Margaret Weeks of Ogunquit. “And the gardens are spectacular.”

“We put in some good time,” admitted garden designer John Prendergast of Eliot.

While the floral works judged for the garden party were fleeting, as flowers usually are, the season for museum and sculpture garden visits runs through Oct. 31.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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