NYC-based artist Mila Hirsch finds inspiration in the simplicity of fresh blooms from the Chelsea market
**Come meet Mila Hirsch and the flower girls at Bromberg’s in Mountain Brook Village on Thursday, April 26. From 5-7pm, sip a glass of champagne, meet the artist, and browse a Juliska trunk show.**
Mila Hirsch isn’t easily swayed—not even by the allure of New York’s contemporary art scene.
Just weeks after landing in the city, the Alabama native found herself stewing gum in the basement of an uptown art gallery. The project was part of an upcoming installation for a well-known artist. But Hirsch soon discovered that her passion lay elsewhere.
Flowers, as it happens, turned her on. After moving to the city in 2010 with her husband, Joe, the 26-year-old fine arts major started painting the blooms he brought home after a long day of work. Vendors in nearby Chelsea discount their bouquets at the end of the day, so it was an easy gift from one high-school sweetheart to the other. Plus, Hirsch says, she had recently become enamored with flower arranging after planning for her own wedding. Painting the flowers before they wilted was a natural next step.
She has since made it into something of a business. Hirsch recently hosted two sales at temporary locations in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, and will sell flower prints for the home-furnishings online retailer One Kings Lane this spring.
“My goal is to merge fine art and home décor—to make fine art that is accessible to people and isn’t so removed from home décor,” she says.
Hirsch works mostly from photographs or fresh arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, peonies, and bells of Ireland. She paints at her dining room table using colors mixed with clove oil and Venetian turpentine. Hues tend toward ivory, blush, and silver, with blue-violet and asparagus accents. Influences include John Singer Sargent, Lucian Freud, and Jenny Saville.
The flower budget usually runs $100 a month, unless Joe is especially devoted. And while Hirsch doesn’t consider herself an expert horticulturalist, she knows what blends her buyers will favor: “I can just point at things in the flower district and say, ‘I like it.’”
A recent flurry of work has been inspired by the energy of living in the city. Hirsch says she loves the Manhattan mentality that allows her to create on a sporadic schedule. Streets bustle at midnight; supply stores and restaurants seem to never close.
Indeed, living here has also honed in Hirsch the appetite for growing a business. That’s one reason Saville, who displayed large-scale oil paintings at New York’s Gagosian Gallery last fall, inspires her. Hirsch describes the artist primarily as a painter-cum-businesswoman, as at ease wearing Chanel as wearing a smock. It’s something to which Hirsch aspires.
But Gotham hasn’t totally drowned out her Southern aesthetic. Her muted renderings are the kind you’d more likely find in a Southern home rather than a Chelsea gallery. They elicit mornings laced with the smell of coffee and grits rather than an espresso-fueled cruise through MoMA—and that’s just fine by her.
“Being in a museum is not my ultimate goal,” Hirsch says with a smile, curled up on the couch of her West Village loft. “My ultimate goal is to be appreciated by people who want to hang my work in their home.”