Breaking News
More () »

Wilting funeral flowers felt like a second death, so this artist painted a permanent garden for her mother

Arianne Zager of Minneapolis is honoring her late mother Marly's vibrant personality and love of art by creating a series of paintings in her memory.

MINNEAPOLIS — After losing her mother Marilyn in August, Arianne Zager received a "flood of flowers." While she was grieving, those flowers slowly wilted.

"Watching the flowers wilt and dissipate on their own was really upsetting," Zager said. "So I decided to paint her a garden that could stay forever."

The exhibit, "in lieu of flowers," opens Saturday, Oct. 22 at 801 Washington Lofts in Minneapolis' North Loop. It features 38 pieces of original artwork created since the passing of Zager's mother on Aug. 3. 

Zager, a multimedia artist whose portfolio includes textiles, fashion, and paintings, says she became an artist because of her mother, affectionately known to all as "Marly Z."

"She was an artist... a product developer and a creative, a poet, a romantic, and just this beautiful lover of life who actually believed that miracles happen," Zager said. "Not only did she teach me everything I know how to do, including walk and talk, but she taught me how to be an artist."

Credit: Arianne Zager
Marilyn Zager (Marly Z) with daughter Arianne.

For Zager, creating art has always been a form of self-expression. After her mother's death from vascular dementia, art creation was especially therapeutic.

"I think that busy hands and a busy mind is a beautiful thing," she said. "It’s a delicate little balance of still processing through grief, but putting it into something tangible that really, really helps me."

Zager painted with her mother's favorite colors. The bold flowers are fuchsia, emerald and plum, with a "shot of gold," a phrase Zager says her family used to describe the color her mom would add to just about anything.

"She celebrated everything. So any of the holidays that we celebrated, she would make these elaborate packages," Zager said. "Cards, strings and ribbon. Everything got what we call 'a shot of gold.' Meaning everything always had gold metallic, or gold glitter... so you’ll see a shot of gold throughout all of these pieces."

Zager said creating the artwork gave her a sense of accomplishment.

"It was all very sad but also uplifting to think of her, and think of her favorite colors and the types of thing that she liked. So at the end of it, I can look back and say, 'Look what I made for you!'"

Zager's artwork will be on display at 801 Washington Lofts through January, as a part of a thrice-yearly art showcase put on by an art committee comprised of the condominium residents. Other featured artists include John Alspach and Judy Sampson.

Saturday, Oct. 22 there will be an art opening from 6-9 p.m. with light food and beverage plus a chance to meet the artists.

Watch more KARE11 Sunrise:

RELATED: Billie Eilish's mom Maggie Baird visits Twin Cities to accept climate activism award

RELATED: 5 financial tips for a successful relationship

Watch the latest coverage from the KARE11 Sunrise in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out