Botanicals are ablaze at FlowerHouse Tacoma

2 Dec

No watering needed. “FlowerHouse Tacoma” by Duncan Price. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Night falls, and the flowers bloom…FlowerHouse Tacoma, an installation by photographer Duncan Price in the Hilltop neighborhood, lights up the darkening days of fall with a quiet radiance. Made possible through a grant from the Tacoma Artists Initiative Program (TAIP), Price has transformed his stately three-story 1907 home into an urban conservatory that seems to pulsate with night-blooming vegetation.

While a traditional hothouse reveres cultivated blooms, FlowerHouse illuminates invasive species with 28 photographic panels featuring the lowly bramble and weeds and thistles depicted on an heroic scale. Price, an Australian-born artist, has deliberately upsided the value of throwaways such as the dandelion, noting that while billions are spent in the US to eradicate such perceived pests, “Dandelions are revered in two-thirds of the world with every part of the plant used in a different way.” In other words, think again. Even his neighbors on the Hilltop can be seen gathering the flowers’ leaves for tea, he says.

The FlowerHouse is sure to attract visitors and drivebys like flame-drawn moths. Price says the art installation will stay on during hours not only for night gazing, but to allow for enjoyment by early-morning commuters “and especially kids waiting for the bus.” He says his favorite view of the work is actually from within the house, which he compares to being inside a terrarium or “botanicquarium” enclosed by luminous flowers seized with gigantism. Rendered in a large-scale format, these nemeses of the gardening set are transformed into dreamy visitors from another biosphere. Invasives we’d gladly welcome in our house, anytime. FlowerHouse Tacoma, up through December 31 at the corner of S. 15th &  S. G streets.

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