(left to right) Celebrations by Sandra Perex-Ramos (Photo credit:Rachel/Instagram-run4lyferachel); and MXY-7 by Steve Rands (Photo credit: Elizabeth Goodson/Instagram _elizabeth_goodson_)

By Jessie Anderson
Capital News Service College Park Bureau

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival ended this month, but its new community-wide visual arts exhibition is sticking around through at least Memorial Day.

Organizers created the “Art in Bloom” exhibit — 26 oversized cherry blossom sculptures painted by local and national artists — to give visitors the opportunity for an in-person festival experience despite access to the trees being restricted this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sculptures have been placed in locations around Washington, Maryland and Virginia. Some sites hope to keep the sculptures permanently displayed.

About 130 artists responded to the festival’s call for applications in January, and 25 were selected after submitting their design ideas. The artists were invited to work on their sculpture in a Washington studio. Fiberglass sculptures were provided as a canvas.