The Austin Chronicle

"Meet the Beetles" at Art.Science.Gallery

This group show celebrating the order Coleoptera in art will have you screaming "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, October 21, 2016, Arts

The current show at Art.Science.Gallery could make you feel downright godlike.

Because, as you may already know, the scientist J.B.S. Haldane once commented that God seems to have an inordinate fondness for beetles – because He, the comment goes, made so many different kinds of them. And if you wander over to Art.Science.Gallery in the excellent Canopy compound during viewing hours sometime before Oct. 23, you're going to see a show called "Meet the Beetles," which might stir deep within your human breast a bit of fondness, perhaps an inordinate amount, for the diverse insect order Coleoptera. Which fondness would suggest that ... ah, you see where this logic leads us, yes?

Except "Meet the Beetles" isn't an exhibition of actual arthropods, alive or dead: It's an exhibition of artwork – of large drawings and paintings and linocuts and sculpture – and even a teeny-tiny little hand-stitched book no bigger than a ladybug – depicting all sorts of beetles. And the works are by 15 artists from the USA and Spain and Italy who are pleased to explore beetle diversity, behaviors, habitats, agricultural significance, and natural history, and to do so in ways that are beautiful to behold.

Maryland's Joel Floyd, a freelance artist who also creates illustrations for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, provides a trompe l'oeil version (in gouache) of beetles pinned in an antique collection box. Sabrina Luoni, a graduate of Milan's Brera Academy, showcases images of a stag beetle, a diving beetle, and a ground beetle in picture-perfect watercolor and graphite, the sort of loveliness you'd expect to see adorning vintage postage stamps from Umm al Qiwain. Austin's own Matt Kressin gets three-dimensional with his take on the chitinous varmints called Fiery Searchers, rendering those caterpillar-hunting beetles with inlaid veneers on a polished block of cherry wood. And so on, goes the show, the rest of the works similarly delighting and informing in their well-chosen array of – oh, that teeny-tiny little book we referenced earlier? It's a hardcover accordion volume, illustrated via watercolors and black fountain-pen ink, by Houston bookbinder Adrianne O'Donnell. And the one-of-a-kind book is that amazingly small because it's life-sized, see? Because that book contains the artist's precise, calligraphically labeled depictions of Ladybird Beetles of Texas: It's as accurate as it is adorable.

So, should you take the time to see this "Meet the Beetles" show or attend some of the events associated with it? Even though J.B.S. Haldane was dead by the time John, Paul, George, and Ringo attained their downright godlike status in pop culture, we reckon that he, too, would've said "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

Art.Science.Gallery., 916 Springdale #102, 512/522-8278
Through Oct. 22

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.