2.05.2013

Sogetsu Ikebana


Palm Beach County, Florida, where I've lived since 1970, is fortunate to have the The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. It's been a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida since opening in 1977. You can explore a series of six diverse gardens inspired by a different historical period and style of Japanese gardening.  They offer world-class exhibits, varied educational programs, a true Tea Ceremony, seasonal events and a bonsai display. They have a decent little restaurant too.
Chieko and James Mihori have been the heart and soul of this museum since the beginning. I used to do a lot of volunteer work there so am very familiar with the museum and all it offers. Naturally, local clubs take advantage of this museum right in their back yard. Recently, our Garden Club went there for lunch and an hour tour. While there, I recalled that every February, Chieko Mihori gives a floral demonstration of Sogetsu Ikebana. Chieko is the Director of Sogetsu Florida and coordinator of Sogetsu North America east coast. 

Are you familiar with Ikebana? It means "giving life to flowers" or "arranging flowers" and is a very disciplined art form. The history of Ikebana dates back to approximately 500 years ago. We're not talking about merely putting flowers in a vase, but using all parts of the flower.....including the stem, leaves and even the branch.....with emphasis toward shape, line, form. In the beginning, Ikebana was very simple, constructed only with stems of flowers and evergreen branches. Rather a silent and reverential pastime. Completely minimalist.

Of course, like most things, Ikebana has grown with the times and there are now many forms of Ikebana. Sogetsu Ikebana was founded in 1927 and while practicing any Ikebana means following established forms, the Sogetsu School is not as disciplined. You can use any material and display it anyplace that brings pleasure to the eye. Modern contemporary life is reflected in Sogetsu Ikebana with emphasis on individual expressions. Natural and manmade materials are widely used, often in unexpected ways. Some of the pieces can be enormous and used in commercial venues. Students often make their own containers and give special attention to the environment in which the work is placed. Chieko mentioned she had taken a pottery class and in the demonstration, used several containers of her own design.

Last year, Chieko received an award from the Emperor of Japan: she was conferred with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays in recognition of her long-time dedication as a trustee and board member of the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens and also in acknowledgement of her commitment to promoting Japanese culture throughout the United States. Here's Chieko with some of her work:



Once I had the date pinned down, I bought tickets and we went to see the demonstration. It lasted an hour and 45 minutes and it was every bit as fabulous and inspiring as I remembered. We loved every minute of it. An added bonus: students of the Sogetsu classes there had their work on exhibit throughout the lobby.
The auditorium was packed to the gills, as it always is when Chieko appears. There was such a crowd surrounding the arrangements after the exhibition, most with professional-type cameras, that I wasn't able to get close enough to take a photo of each one. And then we had to leave for a luncheon engagement. Sadly, I only had my iPhone with me. Sorry about the quality, but you can get the general idea. Chieko made about 12 arrangements and my favorite was the one made in two combined baskets. (lower left) She used two branches of quince along with assorted flowers and it was a miracle of balance. She has a delightful sense of humor and fun, teaching her audience while working. It gives one hope, after watching a master like this change her mind mid-arrangement, or have problems making the flowers and stems do as she wished. 
All in all, a morning filled with flowers and smiles.


For more examples, better photos and some surprises as to size and material, here are some photos of Sogetsu Ikebana from the internet:



17 comments:

  1. Fascinating! I confess I hadn't even heard of Sogetsu Ikebana before this post, but my uncle the florist made sure I'd have a life-long appreciation for floral art. I would be hard-pressed to choose, but the bottom right is probably my favorite.

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  2. Beautiful! I love Japanese flower arrangements.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. So beautiful creations!

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  4. What lovely arrangements! We have an exhibit each year at our art museum where flower arrangers have to mimic a piece of artwork with flowers. I love that show! These are definitely works of art.

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  5. Love Ikebana is really an amazing art!!

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  6. I have read about this in the past. I am so glad you posted about this and were able to go and see this wonderful artist.

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  7. Love flower arranging..how unique these designs..looks like a fun outing..

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  8. Hi Barbara,

    How neat that you were able to go and view all this wonderful talent.
    Thanks for sharing, beautiful arrangements. My Mother used to go to Floral Art at night school and she would always come home with pretty flowers for our home.
    Hope you are enjoying the week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  9. Ikebana...I remember having some classes when living in Brazil...
    These arrangements are so pretty...thank you so much for sharing it.
    Have a wonderful week Barbara!

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  10. Nice style. Loved what you did.

    Evelyn Butler
    rsa certificate

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  11. I love the zen of flower arranging. WHen you see a master do it it really is an exercise in art and contemplation. Some of the practitioners say the flowers tell them what they should do. I love the idea. That and using beautiful flowers and odd branches with lots of character (love the last one most of all and the creeping red branch... superb). Thanks for the tour... sounds like great fun to watch a master!

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  12. very cool, i knew nothing about this until now!

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  13. I have been there! When I lived in Boca, I went there fairly regularly with my kids! It's a small world, Barbara!

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  14. this sounds like such a fun event to attend! Full of beauty!

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  15. What a lovely day! I knew a little about ikebana, but I know more now. She has made some elegant and impressive arrangements.

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