- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Well, if your name is Allan Jones of Davis, Calif., and you capture images of insects throughout the year--especially at the 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden and the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road--and you like to carve pumpkins as an art form, you know that insects and pumpkins go together. They go together very well.
Almost every year Jones carves fanciful pumpkins showcased in the Common Grounds coffee house at 2171 Cowell Blvd., Suite F. "So amazing!" said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, who recently stopped by the coffee house and admired Jones' creations.
"They generally are based on some coffee-related theme," Jones related. "This year I drew on a photo that lingered in my mind of a praying mantis leaning around a sunflower to go shopping for bees. It's a trick or treat, or maybe a bad-things-brewing situation."
"So I've gone back and found the source photo and it is nothing like the pumpkin image I've conjured from memory. But the story is still pretty much on point with artistic liberties taken with insect and flower anatomy."
How he does it: "I 'surface carve' each pumpkin like a wood carving with a v-gouge, then color them. This way they last a month or more as coffee house decorations. Most are coffee-joke pumpkins but I also like to carve natural subjects for fun, too."
An alumnus of UC Davis, Allan became an Aggie in 1961, receiving degrees in English and German in 1966, and his master's in English in 1972. He joined the doctoral program in 1973 "but I quit in 1974, making my summer job of inspecting tomatoes my career for 43 seasons (with California Department of Food and Agriculture for half of my career and then working with CDFA on an independent advisory board). I did some workmanlike macro photography of tomato defects and wider shots of the inspection process for training.“
Allan spent the ‘70s in Dixon, and the ‘80s and ‘90s in Sacramento “before moving back to Davis after 2000.”
The UC Davis alumnus also created art with the UC Davis Art and Science Fusion Program, launched and directed by the duo of entomology professor Diane Ullman of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. Their campus and community projects are permanent displayed over much of the UC Davis campus, including the Arboretum and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.