All you need to know about Flower Flash
The New Yorker calls Lewis Miller 'the Banksy of floral design.' Isn't it time you got to know more about him?
At 5:45am, on the morning of Thursday 20 October 2016, Lewis Miller and his colleagues filled a van with 2,000 flowers and headed for the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park. Their destination was the circular, mandala-like mosaic set into the park’s grounds with the word ‘IMAGINE’ written across its centre.
Miller and co. arranged hundreds of brightly colored stems into a psychedelic halo around the mosaic, fulfilling a simple ambition. “Turning my craft on its head has allowed me to share my infatuation with flowers with my fellow New Yorkers,” says the floral designer. “Surprising them with Nature’s glory for no other reason than to bring beauty into their lives is a great way to start my day.”
Of course, not everyone in the city would necessarily share Miller’s ideas. As a Parks & Services crew approached the installation, he feared that the clean-up team might sweep away their floral tribute to Lennon. Fortunately, they showed a little more love. “Outfitted with leaf blowers and a broom, they began to gingerly sweep away the falling leaves around our flowers and gave us their approval and blessing with a quick thumbs up,” he later wrote.
Those Parks & Services guys are not alone. Plenty of others in the Big Apple have learned to love Miller’s impromptu, floral installations. Some have called him the Flower Bandit; The New Yorker dubbed him the Banksy of floral design. “He and his merry band of beautifiers have been stealthily creating what they call Flower Flashes,” explained Vogue. “Their goal? Only to bring joy to their fellow citizens' daily commutes.”
Five years and more than 90 Flashes later, these elaborate bursts of jubilant blooms on trash cans, bus canopies and construction sites have brought moments of delight and wonder to New Yorkers and flower lovers everywhere.
Miller's new book, Flower Flash is a gorgeous and poignant behind-the-scenes look at more than 90 of these installations.The title’s kaleidoscopic, collage-like design reflects the spontaneous energy of the Flashes, the dynamic spirit of New York City, and the myriad art historical sources from which Miller draws inspiration. Divided into three sections — The First Flash, Beauty Before Dawn, and Beauty in the Dark — this must-have book tells the story of the early tentative Flashes in fall 2016, the confident Flashes up until early 2020, and the Flashes of the pandemic to the present.
Its sumptuous cover features a Flash specially made and shot in front of the iconic New York Public Library, overlaid with a section of a 17th-century still life painting by Dutch painter Jacob Vosmaer. The juxtaposition of the two images speaks to the inspiration Miller draws from historical art, and that he sees his Flashes as part of this continuum, but also something entirely new that blends decorative art, street art, and floral design.
Flower Flash will appeal to gardeners, flower lovers and regular park goers, and art aficionadoas, but also big-city urbanites, who will appreciate the way Miller has brought street art and flash mobs into the floral realm. Anyone who likes Basquiat or Banksy, as well as bouquets, will find much to admire in these pages. The book is an exercise in the creative, lattery-day application of a centuries-old decorative art; and an object lesson in the highly contemporary art of public acts of kindness and beauty. To find out more about Flower Flash and to order your copy go here.