Photo by Larry Brecker

An ancient Japanese art is making a comeback in a busy, noisy world, bringing peace, harmony, and joy to all those who experience it. Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging, expresses emotion with branches, blossoms, and leaves while emphasizing line, mass, and space.

Teachers and students of traditional and contemporary ikebana are coming together for their Floral Inspiration show on March 11 and 12. The free event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at Ascension Lutheran Church, 7100 N. Mockingbird Lane in Paradise Valley.

The fifth annual event will feature over 50 floral arrangements by 25 local ikebana artists, a “Meet the Artist” tea reception, ikebana demonstrations, live music, a floral photography exhibit, and architecture tours of the beautiful Taliesin-designed church.

The event is being coordinated by Paradise Valley resident Carol Brecker, a certified first degree Jonin Somo teacher with the Sogetsu School in Tokyo. Brecker, chairperson for the AZ Sonoran Desert Sogetsu Study Group, has been a student of ikebana for 20 years, and has been teaching classes and workshops since 2006.

“Take a break from life’s hectic pace and come experience beautiful, uplifting floral displays,” Brecker says. “Our theme this year is Beauty in Meditative Ikebana, and we’ll be exploring the contemplative side of Japanese floral arranging through our use of materials, color, line, and movement.”

Ikebana was introduced to Japan in the 6th century by Chinese Buddhist missionaries who formalized the ritual of offering flowers to the Buddha. Today, there are more than 3,000 different schools of ikebana. Guests to Floral Inspiration will have the chance to experience both old and new ikebana art forms.

“Sogetsu, which I teach, is modern and emphasizes self-expression,” Brecker says. “We are joined by many members of Ikenobo of Arizona, the oldest school of ikebana, with their long history, tradition, and importance in ikebana worldwide.”
Brecker hopes guests will also take time for the architecture tours.

“Ascension Lutheran Church is a dynamic, organic, living building,” she says. “It is based on the architectural designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, as carried out by Taliesin architect and Wright’s son-in-law, William Wesley Peters in 1959.”

The event will also feature fine art photographer, Larry Brecker, who will exhibit beautiful floral and ikebana art photography. An accomplished artist, he uses macro and telephoto lenses to isolate focal points, often highlighting intimate encounters with flowers, leaves, and stems.

The ikebana floral arrangements on display during Floral Inspiration are not for sale; however, Larry Brecker will donate 15% of photography sales to Ascension Lutheran Church.

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