A Comprehensive Arts Review Exploring the Beauty of Floriculture

Pastiche House last presented a performance in November 2022, a collaborative effort between aerialist Odile du and actor Kaci Beeler. The show took place at the Springdale General’s Sky Candy interior. This eclectic pairing is why it was no surprise to see that the exhibition “Floriculture” brought tattoo artist Rita von Lehe together with florist Ashton Chase to fill Vortex’s Pony Shed – an exquisitely renovated greenhouse – with a mixture of their contrasting but complementary visual creations.

On Friday, May 26th, Von Lehe’s monochrome watercolors of various botanicals were displayed on the Shed’s glass walls. They captured the natural beauty and precision of the leaves and petals with near photographic accuracy. Chase’s bold arrangements with fresh flora were also displayed in the Shed’s intimate space, including the shelves and tables.

Who was the original inspiration for the two artists joining forces?

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Rita von Lehe and Ashton Chase in Floriculture. Courtesy of Pastiche house

Von Lehe said, “I was contacted because one of Pastiche House’s founders was interested in my tattoos. They wanted to know if I would consider a collaborative project and with whom I might want to work. Ashton’s artwork caught my attention while I was searching in Austin. Ashton’s use of vivid color and unusual compositions was the perfect contrast to black and grey organically flowing illustrations. As a tattooer, my work is focused on capturing the intricate details of flora and fauna and their symbology for my clients – and finding fun ways for the designs to flow on the body. Using live botanicals by a florist is a great way to enjoy nature differently than I usually do, which is with watercolor. “When Ashton designs a floral arrangement, I imagine it is the same as creating a tattoo from someone’s favorite flowers.”

“I find it compelling that floral arrangements and tattoo art last a week, while the former lasts forever,” said Chase. Rita’s work is also stunningly beautiful, and she can capture movement in flowers. I studied theatre at college [and] My sound teacher Eliot Haynes once compared the short-liveness of our art with the Tibetan monks, who spend so much time creating sand sculptures. Then they destroy it to remind them of the impermanence in life. This analogy moved me, and I now view floral design similarly. Florists are so busy selecting, processing, caring, designing, and transporting flowers that they only have a small window to enjoy them before they die. The real thing is only around for a short time. You are lucky if they give you a beautiful painting or photograph. Then it’s back to the drawing board and creating again.”

Pastiche House’s “Floriculture”

Pony Shed @ The Vortex
2307 Manor Rd. 512/478-528

Rita von Lehe
211 N. Main St.
Tue.-Fri., 11 am-7 pm

The Spotted Poppy, by Ashton Chase
thespottedpoppy. shop

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