A wall-size photo exhibition of rainbow-colored flowers -- blues, greens, pinks and purples -- helped to brighten a gloomy, rainy day for rushing commuters Thursday at the 42nd Street-Bryant Park subway station.

Loretta Tremblay stopped to take a closer look. "I think it's magnificent. Absolutely gorgeous," said the Manhattan resident who was on her way to the New York Public Library.

"Botanicals Below Bryant Park" by Portia Munson is part of the MTA Art and Design light box project. The seven-panel wall-size photographs are mounted in boxed frames that illuminate the flowers' vibrant colors.

"It makes me happy and cheery especially down here in this dreary subway station," said Tremblay, who recognized the symmetrical design as flowers.

Justine Babas, 23, of Queens took a photograph with her cellphone before going to work. "It's really cool. It catches your eye and keeps your attention. I thought it was a painting."

Daisies, geraniums, peonies, mums, clovers and irises reminded Cherryl Roberts, of Swansea, England, of the gardens in South Wales. "I see the daffodils just like the gardens at home. They are lovely. The colors are bright. They make me feel warm and uplifted," she said.

Munson, a former Sea Cliff resident who now lives in upstate New York, said her flower designs are inspired by her grandmother's garden on Long Island. "She was an avid gardener and I remembered her garden in Sea Cliff, which always has beautiful flowers and trees. I remember the cherry blossoms and peonies in the spring."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Munson, 53, who studied fine art at Cooper Union in Manhattan's East Village, said she started to garden when she moved to the Catskills. "I moved from Manhattan and the garden was a way to transition into country living."

That was 18 years ago, and since then the garden has grown into an acre of flowers that she picks to create her photo images.

"I pick them before they wilt and arrange them thinking about the incredible symmetric possibilities of these flowers and their amazing structure," Munson said. She surprised herself when she realized the layout of her flowers resemble the stained glass windows of cathedrals and churches.

"I think the architects of those great churches were inspired by nature like these flowers," she said. Flowers are synonymous with "celebrating life. They make people feel positive and send out good vibrations," she said.