Naples Garden Club Show is this weekend, what to know

His vocation included petals. His painting included. These seemed pretty mutually exclusive.

But Terry and Tucker Aufranc have found their two interests work together perfectly and audiences can see how at the Naples Garden Club Show this weekend.

Under her Theme Design, one of the three design sections required for state-sanctioned shows, Terry Aufranc needed a model for the theme of the show she was chairing for: “Visions: Past, Present, Future “. She asked her husband to paint three works to which the floral motifs could be related. He did, and the contestants have three to work with:

  • An interpretation of the 20,000 year old cave paintings in Lascaux, France
  • A landscape done in the style of the 19th century artist Vincent van Gogh
  • A representation of a retinal microscopy

What? “It was the only thing I could come up with that had both something from the future – the technology – and a vision,” Tucker Aufranc explained. The result is much more artistic than scientific. Globular shapes and wisps of blue and black rise against a variable shaded horizon of tangerine and aqua in a look of abstract expressionism.

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The three works will be part of the club exhibition on Friday and Saturday March 18 and 19 at the Botanical Garden of Naples. (For details, see the info box.)

Unlike his wife, Terry, Tucker Aufranc, now a retired orthopedic surgeon, came to art later in life.

“My mom was a professional artist, but I never really, A. enjoyed it, or B. took enough time to get into it,” he said. “I started when I was 50.”

A chance home visit from a woman with polio brought him face to face with Frederick “Fritz” Kubitz, her husband, an artist who happened to be president of the New England Watercolor Society. Aufranc, who said he was amazed by Kubitz’s work, asked for lessons.

“Turns out I was the one and only student Kubitz ever accepted,” he recalled.

Aufranc also recalled the grueling tasks of producing 50 paintings, of which Kubitz only wanted to see the last two or three. But Aufranc learned. He then learned acrylic, pastel and oil, and his art developed to the point that his work is carried by the Wilstone gallery in Naples.

Terry Aufranc had gardened most of her adult life at the couple’s home in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and when the couple moved from almost full-time to full-time in Naples 2½ years ago, she dived even deeper into the activities of the Naples Garden Club. Arranging is an art, a science and, no doubt, a passion for her.

“I come home from Trader Joe’s with maybe-I-remember-buying-groceries and lots of flowers,” she said with a sheepish smile. The Aufranc house always has fresh flower arrangements. (Read her suggestions for keeping them fresh in the accompanying sidebar.)

Aufranc is testing this passion in her role as president: this year, the first show open to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic attracted 350 entries. Among them, a dozen compete in the category who interpret the three paintings of Tucker Aufranc. There are horticulture, design, education, youth, and botanical arts divisions, each with their own sections.

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The horticulture – the specimens of individual flowers or greenery – attract attention, but the design sections keep visitors coming back. There are categories that incorporate jewelry and even eyewear in a floral pattern, she said. A set of oversized glasses adorned with flowers will be on the garden lawn for a photo op for visitors.

In the meantime, Tucker Aufranc has expanded their art in ways that may lead them to work together on future flower show entries. Looking for a place to paint during the pandemic, he found space at Claymore, the pottery making and firing studio on Shirley Street.

Emily James at the easel

Attracted by the ceramics that surround him, Tucker Aufranc now creates pottery that his wife has used until now for planting. He even developed an appreciation for bromeliads.

“It looks like we’re getting closer to the same thing,” said Terry Aufranc.

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Contact her at 239-213-6091.

Show of the Garden Club of Naples

When: 9am-5pm (8am for members) Friday March 18 and Saturday March 19

Or: Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples

Admission: Free with entrance to the garden; $25, $10 from 4 to 17 years old; free for children under 3 and members

Ticket office, information: Naplesgarden.org or 239-643-7275

Of their chosen arts

Terry Aufranc on the flower arrangement:

1. Know your flowers. Tulips, for example, “are weird in that they can grow half an inch a day in water,” she said. “So the arrangement that looked good yesterday is now a little weird.” Interestingly, hydrangeas are hardy if first soaked in a glass of warm water. Roses will also open but should have some resistance.

2. Adapt your arrangement to the shape of your container. Aufranc created an impromptu arrangement with flowers from Trader Joe’s Market, greens gleaned from her own garden, and a painted boat-shaped vase. Greens, specimens of curtain fig, papyrus, ferns and arboricola, provided the base, and flowers were piled among and above them.

3. Change the water every day or so; always add a preservative to prevent bacteria from growing. Aufranc buys its own curator. But a capful of bleach in the water will work too, she says.

Tucker Aufranc on details for painting students:

1. The quality of support.

“People buy the cheapest watercolors and they’re terrible and people wonder why,” Tucker Aufranc said. That’s why he didn’t paint in acrylics until recently: “All the acrylics I saw were just terrible because they looked slick and had no character.”

2. Allow your colors to dry.

“In watercolor, it’s so important to let it dry before you go to the next step. It’s so hard for people to learn, including me, because I’m very impatient,” said Aufranc, adding with a chuckle, “That’s why God invented hair dryers.”

3. Listen to your instructors. Criticism can be harsh, “but 90% of the time they’re right,” he said.

Flowers, we have flowers

After the Naples Garden Club’s use of art with flowers, the Naples Botanical Garden will get another infusion with a show by Neapolitan artist Emily James.

She will share artwork inspired by the Naples Botanical Garden from 4-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13 from 4-6:30 p.m. at a Meet the Artists event at the garden.

The works will include limited-edition giclee prints of the original “Orchid Lake” painting, inspired by the garden’s LaGrippe orchid garden, and which is available as part of a limited edition of 175 giclee prints, for $1,600. A percentage of the proceeds from each sale is donated to the Botanical Garden.

The Naples Botanical Garden is located at 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples.

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