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Celebrating Hollywood at the Philly Flower Show

Roses and orchids in a brilliant array of color.

Roses and orchids in a brilliant array of color.

With grandeur and opulence befitting the “Golden Age of Hollywood” the 2015 PHS Flower Show is a visual wonder. Cameras click and lights flash as visitors stop to take photo after photo of the displays, almost like paparazzi photographing A-list movie stars. But it is the flowers that stand poised in the spotlights, dazzlingly flamboyant and utterly glamorous.

It’s Cactus has been delivering a few block-busters as well. The booth has been filled daily with enthusiastic shoppers. Many are meeting us for the first time, and it is interesting to see how passers-by go from gazing curiously at the metal displays to becoming enthusiastic customers, thrilled by the “story” of hammer-wielding Haitian craftsmen transforming discarded 55-gallon steel drums into beautiful works of art. Don’t we love that!!

Halfway through the show the early favorite pieces appear to be our newest additions to the inventory. When we were in Haiti in October,

we asked Peterson Remy to make up a few single humming bird samples. He came up with a great design and we ordered as many as he could make. The are such recent additions, they haven’t even made the website yet, but we are likely to sell out of them here at the Flower Show before the week in is out. Stand by for the re-order!
Other favorites are our garden stakes (See website: http//www.itscactus.com/catalog/GARDEN_STAKES-21-1.html ) They look terrific in containers and beds alike. Flower designs, cross designs, sun faces, it doesn’t seem to matter. They are gone almost as quickly as we can wrap them up.

Garden stakes have been one of our hottest sellers!

Garden stakes have been one of our hottest sellers!

And it’s all good. Our sales here are sales for our artists in Haiti. Each item we sell is another item we can order – another cash payment for 3 square meals or housing or school or a computer for a family in Croix-des-Bouquet. “Celebrating Hollywood,” with its glitter and glamour is exciting and fun at the Flower Show, but food on a table in Haiti is by far the bigger picture. Thank you, Philly, for your support!


Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

Jellyfish, art and ancient warfare

"Jellyfish" sculpture by Kendy Bellony SM504

“Jellyfish” sculpture by Kendy Bellony SM504

Earlier this week, we posted 39 new catalogue pieces on our website.  Designs that we have worked long and hard to bring about, we are now excited and proud to present.   Though it is hard to pick a favorite, I’m going to.  Hands down, and for the next three or four days at least, it is Kendy Bellony’s jellyfish.

Isn’t it elegant?  That’s what I think of when I think of jellyfish. Elegance.  I saw them in an aquarium one time and in that particular exhibit, each of the tanks was surrounded by a heavy, highly ornate, gilt frame and in the background, classical music was playing – Bach or Handel, I’m sure. It seemed entirely appropriate as I marveled at the jellies gliding with refined grace through the water on the other side of glass.   Watching this video by David Regner for the National Aquarium in Baltimore took me right back to that experience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJUuotjE3u8  They are works of art, pure and simple.

Kendy’s sculpture looks to me like a sea nettle, which is a type of jellyfish found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  They are characterized by their long tentacles and frilly mouth-arms (I did not make that up.  That’s what they are called, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.) and by the star-like pattern on the top of their bell. They eat zooplankton, small crustaceans, and other jellies, while they are preyed upon by tuna, dogfish, butterfish, sunfish, and sea turtles.  Jellyfish as a species have no blood, brains, teeth, or fins and are 95% water, which sort of makes you wonder about nutritional value and why ANYTHING bothers to eat them at all. Balance of nature and circle of life considerations, I presume, or maybe just roughage…

Sea Nettle - serene and elegant.

Sea Nettle – serene and elegant.

The splendid, flowing tentacles and mouth-arms of the jellies are, of course, where the “sting” is carried.  This insidious business is conducted by a multitude of stinging cells called nematocysts, which vary in toxicity from mildly irritating to deadly. Though my research resources are replete with gee-whiz facts with regard to “the sting,” this one, in my opinion takes the cake:  The National Aquarium website reports that the ancient ninja warriors of Japan used to scatter dried venom from the Northern Sea Nettle into the wind to irritate the nose and eyes of their enemies during battle.

Sayonara, Baby!


Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

A Hedonist’s Guide to Art Acquisition

This is just my opinion, mind you, and maybe it’s really just me.  But I think art acquisition ranks right up there with food and sex in terms of hedonistic drives. Anybody else?  So why is that?  What triggers that first impulse to buy art?  And then what makes us feel compelled to buy more?  When does the act of purchasing a single piece of art become a full-on libertine pursuit? And if we are so driven, how do we pursue it as gourmands, and not gluttons?

Perhaps the first and most important consideration regarding the purchase of any artwork for collection is its overall aesthetic appeal. The “experts” say that, “A piece of high-caliber art will harmoniously orchestrate the aesthetic qualities of line, tone, color, shape, space, texture, etc. These elements will work in synchrony to maximize the descriptive, emotive, and spiritual effect upon the viewer. Hence, the piece becomes a visual symphony that informs, challenges, and engages the viewer long after the initial response.” And what, in blue blazes does that mean?  Taken down to their most basic form, these criteria are the heart of any decision for purchase.  Simply put: “Do I like it?  Is it pleasing to me?” If the answer is yes, the piece has potential.

One of a kind piece by Michee Ramil Remy. Over his lifetime, Michee produced a large body of work, receiving numerous awards and international accolades. His style is instantly recognizeable, uniquely primative and somewhat edgy.

Evaluating the technical aspects: i.e. the “line and tone” and “harmonious orchestration” of the piece takes a little homework, though you’ll get better as you go along. Talk to people who know the art.  Let them help you develop your eye for “line and tone” and so on.  Casey Riddell comes to mind for Haitian metal sculpture.  This is her business website, to be sure, but take advantage of her wealth of knowledge, if Haitian art is what you’re into. Good, reputable art dealers – and Casey is one of them – is happy to inform and instruct prospective collectors in evaluating the merits of a particular piece.  They can help you “see what you’re looking at,” so to speak.

By all means, visit art galleries and museums, too. Join art societies and mingle with other collectors and experts in your area of interest. (The Haitian Art Society might be one for you.  www.haitianartsociety.com) Check out books and other references, explore every avenue open to you. The more you learn and develop your eye, the better you will become in assessing aesthetic components and their relation to the whole.  When you become familiar with the best examples of a particular type of art, you’ll know how your potential acquisition stacks up.

The corollary to this is: Buy the finest artwork that you can afford.  Let’s break that down.  “Buy the finest…” Certainly! Buying something that is “pretty good” that you “kind of like” won’t give you pleasure in the long run.  You’ll end up wishing you hadn’t settled and the piece will not take its place amongst your treasured collection, it will end up in a garage sale. The second part, “…that you can afford,” is good common sense.  Don’t break the bank.   Not even if you are tempted.   That won’t give you pleasure in the long run either.

And we are back to the original idea.  Do you like it?  Does it give you pleasure? For that is the joy of collecting; to look at your pieces, remembering the where and the when, the knowledge gained, deal struck, and the thrill of the hunt.  Oh yes, there can be more to it than pleasure.  Much more.  But that is where it starts.

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