The 28th annual Wreath Interpretations exhibition is underway at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park.
Thirty-one wreaths are on display, each with their own style, color, and unique themes, and they are crafted from untraditional materials, including feathers, metal, wine corks and cocktail umbrellas.
"We have wreaths that are very festive in a traditional way. We also have very funky wreaths," said curator Jennifer Lantzas. "We have a couple of wreaths that are actually made out of steel."
"I'm surprised, I thought they were just going to be regular wreaths. They're very funky," said visitor Frances Rufi.
While some wreaths scream fun, others have important political and social meaning. The wreath "Global AIDS Awareness" by Richard Pean features a red satin ribbon beneath a wooden map of the world.
"We bring awareness to the AIDS issue, as well as endangered species," said Lantzas.
Wreaths are normally associated with the holiday season, but they also have great historical significance. In ancient Rome, leaders wore them as crowns and the ancient Greeks placed them on the heads of winning athletes.
In addition to artists, about half of the exhibit's wreaths are designed by Parks Department employees like George Kroenert, who created his art from cardboard apple crates to draw attention to hardworking apple farmers.
"They have nature to deal with they've got prices to fight with. They've got pestilence and all kinds of natural hazards that can get in their way," said Kroenert.
Some say the "Heroine Hanukkah" wreath by Parks Department employee Eileen Remor has the most chutzpah, as it shows famous Jewish women set among fabulous feathers and rhinestones.
"I did eight women because of the eight nights of Hanukkah, and I found out that [actress] Marilyn Monroe was actually Jewish. She converted when she married [playwright] Arthur Miller," said Remor.
The wreaths on display in the gallery are for sale, ranging in price from $100 to $12,000, and the profits will go to various charities and help support the gallery.
The Arsenal Gallery, located just inside Central Park at Fifth Avenue and 64th Street, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers exhibitions of contemporary art throughout the year and the emphasis is on urban parks, recreational and historical themes.
The Wreath Interpretations exhibition runs through January 6 and admission is free. For more information, visit www.nycgovparks.org.