This show exemplifies RAM’s intent to successfully show graphics and paintings together with artworks in craft media. In this case, all the works are unified by floral subject matter. The symbolism of flowers—lilies for purity, colors of roses communicating different emotional messages—is part of both folklore and painting traditions. Tulips had such an effect on 17th century Holland, that they not only inspired many Dutch still life paintings, they also touched off an economic disaster. The mania caused by the speculative selling of these bulbs, as well as their frequent depictions in art of the colonial age, show their impact on society and culture as newly traded goods.
The theme for this RAM exhibition is partly inspired by Watercolor Wisconsin 2008 at RAM’s Wustum Museum of Fine Arts. Now in it’s 42nd year, this annual statewide competition has made Racine a center of watercolor activity in the Midwest. Many works in each year’s competition are devoted to floral subject matter—both realistic and abstract.
Many paintings appearing in Hothouse were actually purchased for RAM’s permanent collection from past Watercolor Wisconsin competitions. This tradition continues. One of this year’s purchases is a floral piece by Kitty Sturrock entitled Spidermum and Alstroemeria, which won the Rufin and Mary Ann Naczinski Purchase Award and is among four other pieces that will be added to RAM’s collection