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On June 15 after weeks of contemplation and planning, 22 floral designers will descend on the Upper Gallery at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts to create floral arrangements for the 11th annual Art in Bloom.

The usually quiet gallery will be bustling with women and men who are professional florists, flower designers, flower growers, floral design teachers, design students and seasoned amateurs, each of whom takes their own approach to the process, each of whom will create an arrangement that interprets a work of art.

Lynn Forbes is one of 10 Ikebana floral designers participating in this year’s Art in Bloom. Ikebana is the ancient art of Japanese floral arranging that, according to Ikebana International, is steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature.

Within the art form there are nine “schools,” each with a specific focus. Forbes studies in the Ichiyo School under Terri Ellis Todd, one of the organizers of the first BMCA Art in Bloom, a contemporary school that encourages personal interpretation.

For this year’s Art in Bloom, Forbes has been assigned “Watch” by Ross Richmond, a multi-colored, textured glass sculpture on loan from the Bender Gallery in Asheville.

“I consider color, line and surface beauty when I’m assigned my piece,” said Forbes. “I select a container that will enhance my arrangement and not overpower the artwork I’m interpreting.”

She may practice with several containers before making a final decision.

“I want to make sure my floral materials are grown naturally here in the mountains, come from my own yard or local farms and will have the textures and colors that will convey the meaning of the piece.”

Forbes experiments with her design at home, plans carefully and may work with several practice designs before the June 15 date arrives.

Betsey Baker, who works in the floral display department at the Biltmore Estate, has participated in every Art in Bloom since its inception.

“Art in Bloom is always a thrill for me,” she said. “It’s exciting from start to finish. I like getting together with other designers. I love the challenge of interpreting the art, and I love the Gala.”

She is one of 11 Western or traditional designers participating in the event. This year, Baker’s assignment is “Starry Night II” by Megan Richard, a dark blue canvas dotted with stars in an homage to Van Gogh on loan from Seven Sisters Gallery.

“Once I get my assignment I conjure the piece in my head,” said Baker, who takes a more spontaneous approach to her arrangement. “The day of the event, I cut flowers that I think will work and then once I’m in the gallery, the flowers tell me where they want to go.”

The first opportunity for the public to view the floral designs and celebrate their creators is at the Gala Preview Party at 6 p.m. June 15 and includes a buffet dinner, craft brews and wine and specially designed flavors of Ultimate ice cream for dessert.

Tickets to the gala are $50. The floral designs can also be viewed on June 16-17 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for a $5 entry fee or as part of the Cottage Garden tour ($20). For more or tickets, visit BlackMountainArts.org or call 669-0930.

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