Event organizer, Martha Whitney Butler is an artist and floral designer who owns the French Potager in Bay St. Louis. Butler has been creating small quirky installations in her Main Street shop since she opened three years ago and they’ve become a draw for locals and regular customers, who often stop in just to see her latest creation.
Butler, who also serves as president of The Arts, Hancock County and is a popular columnist with the Fourth Ward Cleaver webzine, has been planning a larger, outdoor floral installation for more than a year. In October, a group of florists in Detroit made national news by transforming an abandoned building into a“flower house.” Butler was inspired to invite other coast artists and floral designers to work with her on a collaborative project here on the coast to bring in the new year.
According to Butler, the exhibit will be a “jungle of flora and fauna.” The installation will cover the outside wall of a building on the corner of Main and Second Street, “grow” across an iron patio fence bordering the sidewalk and move through the doors of the historic cottage that is home to Smith and Lens Gallery. The gallery walls - and even the ceilings - will be included with the installation.
There's a suggested five dollar donation to view the part of the installation that's in the gallery. Funds collected will be split between the artists to help cover the costs of the materials. Several show related items will also be for sale in the gallery, with proceeds going toward project expenses.
Butler’s a bit cagey about exactly what the installation will look like. She wants it to be “a surprise,” and says that it’s evolving. She did describe a “bird’s nest throne” however.
She says “the point of the project is to emphasize the transitory beauty of life and nature and encourage people to appreciate small moments of joy as time moves on.”
Smaller installations by Butler in the French Potager