“Sogetsu Ikebana Show”

When it first emerged in the 1920s, the Sogetsu school represented a radical break from the ikebana tradition of Japanese flower arranging, and it remains so today. During the U.S. occupation of Japan following World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s wife studied at Sogetsu; in those years, the art frequently featured charred or defiled industrial materials indicating Japan’s national nuclear angst. After nuclear showers, the art freighted with symbolism that is meant to perfect a floral dialogue between heaven and earth cried out for the dimensional shift that Sofu Teshigahara (1900-1979) founded, along with the Sogetsu school. Sogetsu forsakes old-line ikebana’s stylized curves and classical containers for limit-free arrangements that embody grim existential quandaries of the modern age by incorporating metal, plastic, vinyl, and paper. This weekend, the National Arboretum hosts an exhibit of 40 Sogetsu designs executed by local practitioners’ arrangements presided over by Seiho Sugiyama, a grandmaster of the U.S. Sogetsu school. Ribbon-cutting is at noon Saturday, with green tea and sweets to follow. The show runs from noon-5 p.m. Saturday, May 30, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 31, at the National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE. Free. (202) 245-2726. (Bradford McKee)