Pop des Fleurs

Dippy the Dinosaur with a Pop des Fleurs necktie, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

Dippy le Dinosaur with a Popped des Fleured necktie, Oakland

A blast of lovely spring color in the darkest, coldest days of winter. At least, that’s the idea. This winter has basically been a no-show but rest assured that the eye-popping collision of vibrant fantasy flora still made a bold entrance and looks magnificent against the electric blue skies we’ve been seeing. Yes, we are officially neck deep into Pop des Fleurs* season.

Pop des Fleurs art project, Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh, PA

Pot d’Pop des Fleurs, Carnegie Library, Oakland

If you’ve been to the library in the last couple weeks–any library in the Carnegie system–you’ve seen the flowers. You can’t miss them. They’re planted in huge pots; they cover giant wall panels and adorn railings; they decorate nearby structures. Each installation site has a different arrangement, media, and theme so it’s rewarding to make your way around to as many as you can. There’s a Google map pin-pointing a couple dozen locations in the county.

Pop des Fleurs art project, Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Library, Central North Side

Pop des Fleurs is a project of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh and anyone who’s seen one of their shows or is familiar with their work knows that the “fiberarts” extend to cover a pretty wide range of materials, styles, and techniques–it ain’t just knitting and quilting. You get a pretty great cross-section look at those in the various installations: knit and crocheted yarn, recycled shopping bags and product containers, plastic stretched over wire forms.

Pop des Fleurs art project, Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Library, Lawrenceville

Around this time last year, The Orbit ran a story on Pop des Fleurs trial run for the project in Arsenal Park. The experience, in winter 2015’s unrelenting snow and brutal cold, was a revelation. If we have one regret, one minor quibble with the terrific Pop des Fleurs project, it is that by attaching the arrangements to institutions (sometimes literally) they lose some of their terrific namesake “pop” we experienced at the test installation last winter. Brilliant flowers against white snow and gray skies just look terrific.

I’m sure there are very practical reasons for this approach–legal, financial, grant-obligated, etc.–and the association with the Carnegie Library system is great–but these flowers would bring so much desperately-needed life to barren parks and desolate public spaces that it feels like a missed opportunity.

Close-up of Pop des Fleurs art project, Pittsburgh, PA

This is, to be clear, the most minor of criticisms. The Orbit is officially on its feet, clapping earnestly, and yelling Bravo between wolf-whistles. To the visionaries and craftspeople of the Fiberarts Guild and Pop des Fleurs project, we thank you for bringing Pittsburgh such a fantastic piece of technicolor fantasy into the cruelest of month of the year. Hat’s off.

Detail of giant purple and yellow knitted flower as part of Pop des Fleurs, Pittsburgh, PA

* That’s French for “Pop the Fleurs” [Note to self: look up “fleurs”]


Flowers in February

Pop des Fleurs test installation, Arsenal Park, Pittsburgh

Pop des Fleurs test installation, Arsenal Park, Pittsburgh

On this grayest of days, in the midst of the most miserable of months, even the hardest of core ice-in-his-veins bloggers is tempted to just stay holed-up inside with his hot coffee, British crime dramas, and cauldron of thick stew.

But no!  Not with beautiful flowers blooming a mere two blocks from Chez Orbit.  Flowers?  In February?  In Pittsburgh?  Indeed!  Possibly (or maybe not) coinciding with this most contrived of holidays, the miracle workers of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh have created their first test installation of the Pop des Fleurs project at Arsenal Park, in Lawrenceville.

Pop des Fleurs detail

Pop des Fleurs detail

The Fiberarts Guild were the masterminds behind 2013’s incredible Knit the Bridge project which brought together tons of volunteer knitters of all types from all over the county to ultimately cover the Andy Warhol (nee 7th Street) Bridge in knit and crocheted panels.

Pop des Fleurs has similar goal of taking fiber arts to public spaces, but with the very deliberate timing of bringing bright color to the outdoors in deep bleak winter.  The project team is looking for makers to create the flowers either on their own or in a number of public workshops and events.

The test installation will be up for just three more weeks (through March 8).  Find a cold, snowy day and get your keister over to the park for a blast of magic.

Pop des Fleurs with American flag

Old Glory