BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Whether it is the lush flower arrangements he designs by day or the strikingly colorful paintings he creates in his studio at night, Luke Carroll surrounds himself with beauty every day.
Walking into Green, Inc., his family florist business on Wells Street, you are enveloped into its abundance: everything around you is verdant and alive, transporting you out of the city and into somewhere far more exotic and mysterious. This feeling of life and boldness carries over into the vivid paintings, photographs, and collages Luke creates.
When we chatted with Luke, he was soon to visit relatives in Riga, Latvia, on the heels of a busy week at Green, Inc., where he and his mother Inara completed floral transformations of homes for major events in addition to smaller arrangements created for a variety of occasions and clients. Wise and immeasurably kind, Luke treats both customers – and the flowers he works with – with great respect and love.
“Our work has been described as lush and natural, garden-y and seasonal. Flowers are such a fine variety of nature, all exuberant, abundant, and alive. Our flowers arrive by plane Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with roses coming in from South America, and others from Thailand, Mexico, and California. It is our family business, begun in 1973, and an honor to work in people’s homes or for their weddings and other events.”
Luke’s grandmother Vera, who grew up in Riga, has encouraged him to paint as frequently as he can, and he is working on a possible fall show. His artistic interests began early.
“In 1977, when I was seven, Chicago Magazine published a large pencil drawing I did of the Claes Oldenburg Bat Column on West Madison, which was accompanied by an ode written by my father Paul Carroll, a University of Illinois professor who also attended the Iowa Writers School. I draw in my studio every day and have been sending my drawings to family and friends. My work is figurative and I created a series where colors and patterns change a bit, sometimes with the feeling of collages. I am now in conversation about a gallery show with Mikus Kins of the RMX Gallery on Damen in Bucktown.”
A graduate of Frances W. Parker School, Luke went on to create a symposium featuring painting, performance art, music, and architectural build-out as his senior project at Bennington College. Titled “Youlysses,” it concentrated on James Joyce’s journals. He continues to read Joyce as well as Anton Chekhov and Samuel Beckett when he has a free moment.
Whether Luke is using flowers and vessels as his metaphorical palette, or is working with paper, paints, and inks in his studio, an explosion of color and creativity is end result – life is what always shines through.