Friday, June 10, 2016

Art Interlude

A cricket enclosure with some super-stylized bug noms--I couldn't find the artist label for this one.

Here's a quick warning: I've found bugs infinitely fascinating since I was a little girl. That's not to say I'm cool with poisonous wasps floating around my head or that I'd love to wake up covered in roaches, but for the most part, I am the kind of person who tries to kidnap spiders, photograph them, then release them instead of smooshing them. If you are truly terrified of insects, this isn't the post for you.

While some of the pieces at the current Wood Street Galleries exhibit are true blue art, a lot of them are a mixture of visual spectacle and science. Take this little cockroach munching on a tomato: he's obviously not art in and of himself, but he and his buddies were shown alongside a three-legged robot. It was designed so that--get this--the cockroach itself would move the robot, with no outside help. Explicitly art? No. Explicitly cool? Totally.

There were still some "art for the sake of art" pieces, of course, like "Justified By Love" by Jennifer Angus. Yes, all of those bugs are real...and this is just one of several arrangements Angus created. Again, I really like bugs, so I'm hoping these guys were already dead before she pinned them to the boards. Regardless, it's an interesting piece that questions what we find beautiful and what we consider a wall-worthy trophy.

And the wallpaper selection (which includes phrases like "Remember Me," shown here) makes me wonder about how we value living creatures. Think about it: all of these bugs in this art piece are dead, as was the squirrel I noticed on the side of the ride a few days ago. But I admit that I felt a stronger emotional reaction when I saw the mammal. Why? That squirrel wasn't my pet, it wasn't inherently more valuable to the ecosystem than a cicada or a bee, and it probably would've bit the shit out of me just as quickly as any black widow spider.

Speaking of bees: OH MY GOD, THEY HAVE GIANT SEE-THROUGH BEEHIVES! I've been obsessed with bees for years now, and seeing them this up close and personal was a real treat. I could have watched them for hours if I'd had the chance. What's interesting is that this beehive includes a tunnel that pokes through the window and allows the bees to fly around outside of the gallery, and they come in go by the multitudes. Yet nobody down below notices. These two worlds are so fast-paced and busy, but we take no notice of each other. It makes you wonder how the world functions around you on so many different levels...and you never notice.

Also, nobody panic, the bees cannot get inside the gallery.

As I waited for the bus home, I noticed a dragonfly land on this man's hand and stay perfectly still for a full minute. When it flew off, he rolled up his sleeve and revealed two dragonfly tattoos. This was almost certainly coincidence--dragonflys are weirdly sedate, and tattoos of them abound--but it still felt very special and sweet. You know what they say: there's beauty in the mundane.

Wood Street's "All Around Us" exhibit will remain open until the 19th, so if you're in the city and you're not terrified of insects, definitely check it out. As always, the exhibitions are free, though donations are appreciated.

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