Unforgettable Art Show: Lessons from a Night of Red Roses


The Milan Art Team hosting an unforgettable art show in Scottsdale, Arizona

We wanted to create the ultimate art experience for people who love art. We hoped to elevate every art show we have been a part of, making each one even better. We endeavored to inspire patrons by enabling them to experience art with their eyes, ears, scent, touch, and emotions. Our goal was to craft an art experience that was shockingly romantic on every level, making the show unforgettable.

The whole family, along with a few other artists working with us, gathered to brainstorm some plans. We connected with a prominent realtor in Scottsdale, Arizona, who had a listing for a multimillion-dollar property and a charity also located in Scottsdale with many donors in the area. Everything was coming together.

An Unforgettable Art Show

Romantic artwork display with red rose petals scattered across the floor for the Milan Art - Art Show

It was late afternoon as I walked around the beautiful estate, admiring our accomplishment. We had over 50 pieces of art for sale, all strategically placed on easels in every room of the house. As you walked through each section of the house, you were enveloped in the atmosphere of each painting.

We scattered more than 10,000 red rose petals on the floor around the easels, adding romance and drama to the ambiance. The house began to smell of roses as the golden lights illuminated the artwork. We had wine and food catered, with tea candles floating in the pool. As the sun set, the shadows grew longer, casting breathtaking views. Guests started to arrive, taking in the entire scene. We had three salespeople ready with iPads as the house began to fill.

The Power of Collecting Art

Art patrons gather at a Milan Art - Art Show to hear about the power of collecting art

Our program started at 6:30. About 100 people gathered around the pool outside, sitting at rented tables and chairs. The artists spent a few minutes sharing their art and inspirations. The president of the charity, to which we agreed to donate a percentage of sales, spoke about their work with children and families battling cancer.

I concluded the program with an inspiring talk about the power of art to change the world. I discussed the purpose of patronage and how art is incomplete until its acquisition. The patron, I explained, is the second half of the story, necessary for the art to continue to live. I emphasized that patrons are world changers and culture warriors, supporting artists and art that paint our future—a future filled with hope, beauty, and love.

By the time the sun had set, the beautiful glowing night led everyone inside to the art. We had covered some paintings with gold sheets and unveiled them all at once. Guests walked through the house from room to room, admiring the beautiful art displayed on the easels. It wasn't long before I saw iPads in use and transactions taking place. Although I didn't know how much art was selling, there was definitely activity.

The Rose Petal Catastrophe

red rose petal catastrophe at the Milan Art - Art Show in Scottsdale, Arizona

I went to check on the catering and wine just outside the kitchen when the realtor rushed up to me in a panic, exclaiming, "We have to shut this down. Everyone has to leave!"

"What's wrong? What happened?" I asked. She aggressively grabbed my arm and yanked me out of the kitchen and down the hall to a shocking scene. It looked like a blood bath. A deep red color smeared the once pristine white stone floor, resembling a scene from a horror movie. It looked like someone had dragged a bludgeoned dead body across the floor. It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing. "Roses! It's roses!" I cried.

"Yes! The owners will kill me! These are imported Italian stone floors!" The realtor was out of her mind.

"Okay, no problem, we'll clean it. I'm sure this has happened before. We aren't the first to scatter 10,000 rose petals on a floor. It should wash right out," I reassured her.

"No! You don't understand. This is my reputation. This will ruin me! Everyone has to leave!" she screamed.

Salvaging the Situation

People started noticing her hysteria and the state of the floor. Some bent down, rubbing the floor with their fingers to see if the stain would come off. Then, the realtor comes out from the laundry room with a mop and bucket, frantically flinging Ajax on the floor and mopping in the middle of the art show. I begged her to stop, assuring her we would get it professionally cleaned.

I started trying to sweep up the 10,000 petals, attempting to halt the carnage of pulverized petals on the floor. As I looked around, I noticed the crowd had significantly thinned, with everyone growing panicked and worried about the floors. Within just 20 minutes, the last guest left, and our show ended an hour early.

On the one hand, I was so irritated with the realtor; her panic and commotion spoiled the event. On the other hand, the floor resembled a scene from Scarface, and I could understand why she was so upset. Scottsdale is known for being a bit hoity-toity, and word travels fast.

Lessons in Resilience

 Elli Milan and John Milan embrace after their Milan Art - Art Show

Our grand romantic gesture of filling the house with rose petals turned out to be a flop! Our goal was to create an unforgettable experience that everyone would remember. We hoped that when they bought art, it was a thrilling and powerful experience that would leave a lasting impression as they enjoyed their artwork.

We sold $30,000 worth of art that night, and who knows how much more we could've sold if the event hadn't ended abruptly. We stayed cleaning the floors until after midnight, but we weren't able to clean them completely.

The next day, we hired an emergency stone floor cleaning service to not only clean the floors but also reseal them, as the realtor had stripped off the original sealant with Ajax! We had insurance, but I don't remember if we ended up making a claim or not. Despite the sudden tragic end, the night was incredibly magical and amazing.

Embracing Our Romatic Hearts

The lesson was NOT to stop spreading rose petals, believing for the best, or holding back from going all in. It wasn't about squelching a romantic heart, holding back the enthusiasm, or shrinking dreams. The real lesson is that I make mistakes, I get disappointed, and sometimes I even see my dreams die, but it's only so that they can be reborn into something even better.

We have hosted many more shows, not allowing ourselves to be jaded by our failures and flops. We’ve stretched ourselves to remain open and extend our hearts, believing in the successes and happy endings. Failures and setbacks are inevitable and even a necessary part of the journey, but it's moving forward, undaunted and still passionate, that determines whether dreams will come true.

Share your story in the comments below!


  • Rachael Bahl

    Wow 😯 cool story I wish I could see the art though too

  • Geraldine Dunham

    I’m so glad that it worked out for you. I would have been horrified. God is watching out for you

  • Tonya

    Eli as one of your mastery program students, I firmly believe your willingness to BE vulnerable is your strength — storytelling! Ur love and passion to art and my success endeavors for same rates high in my book of awe! Love ur entire family and each and everyone contributes to my journey. For that I thank you xo. See you all Friday at your awesome opening. I’m bringing roses. Jk
    Elli Milan Art replied:
    Hi Tonya! I’m so excited to meet you! Thank you for the encouragement. 😊

  • Murphy Norma

    Haha! My husband and I and two other couples went and stayed at a bed and-breakfast in Santa Fe one year. We had just returned from the day of River rafting, and we’re so exhausted. We had a couple of bottles of red wine with us to relax and enjoy the night at the bed-and-breakfast. Somehow the wine bottle fell out of the bag and broke which stained the tile floors. the owner had a fit. she was running around cleaning it, saying it was going to ruin the floors, etc..
    It was able to get cleaned, but she was frantic!
    The next morning, at breakfast she wasn’t very nice to us, my husband said she gave him a very small taco! lol that’s what your story reminded me of at a smaller scale.

    Elli Milan Art replied:
    Oh my gosh!! That’s so funny! 😂 almost anything can get clean somehow. Everyone needs to relax! 😅

  • Melany Terranova

    Ellie! Your stories!!! You write so well and the moral of every story shows forgiveness and hope.
    In this story, we learn that mistakes are humanly made, yet when one dream collapses a better one rises up! How inspiring!
    Elli Milan Art replied:
    Yes! I love that. Sometimes things that are so frustrating and disappointing are so funny years later. Failure + time = humor🤣

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