- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Just check out the Bohart Museum of Entomology's newly published calendar.
"Mr. January" is a locust sitting quite comfortably in a chair--a swivel chair at that--and eagerly accessing a dating site. "You've got a match!" the screen informs him.
Yippee! You can almost hear him yelling "Yippee."
The caption reads: "Normally, locusts are introverted creatures; they do not socialize unless it is for reproduction."
The rest of the story: Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and longtime professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, collects unusual answers on the student tests she administers. You can imagine how many sentences comprise her collection: she joined the faculty back in 1989!
The "dating locust" is one of 12 from the Lynn Kimsey Prized Collection that made it into the Bohart's first-ever calendar. UC Davis entomology major Karissa Merritt, a talented artist and scientist known for her creativity and sense of humor, interpreted and illustrated all the sentences.
The calendar, a project of the non-profit Bohart Museum Society, sells for $12, plus tax, at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. (More information is available on the website or by contacting email@example.com or (530) 753-0493.) It's also available in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology administration office in 367 Briggs Hall.
Those who contribute $50 or more to the Bohart Museum Society will receive a calendar with their donation. All proceeds are earmarked for research, education and outreach projects.
Merritt says insects fascinate her. She's amazed at how "alien their biology and morphology are as compared to vertebrates." She's also drawn to their beauty and diversity.
Professor Kimsey, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, directs the world-renowned Bohart Museum, home of eight million specimens, a year-around gift shop and a live "petting zoo" which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. She specializes in bees, wasps and insect diversity.
And collecting sentences--many apparently from sleep- or caffeine-deprived students.
"Normally, locusts are introverted creatures; they do not socialize unless it is for reproduction."
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
No, not the one below, a banded-winged grasshopper (family Acrididae and subfamily Oedipodinae) that we spotted west of the UC Davis campus--and identified by Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
These particular locusts will be something you've never seen before--and will probably always remember.
Sculptor Cyrus Tilton will display his work in a solo exhibition titled The Cycle that runs Oct. 4-29 in the Vessel Gallery, 471 25th St., Oakland. He's created a kinetic locust swarm and two 11-foot sculptures of mating locusts.
Morphologically correct, too.
Tilton will unveil his work at a press preview party on Saturday, Oct. 1. Until then, it's a surprise, but the photo below (of the work in progress) gives you a glimpse of what's to come.
Who is Tilton? He's an Oakland-based artist and the art director of the Scientific Art Studio in Richmond. His work includes a bas-relief of Barry Bonds' 500th home run. A 1998 graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, Tilton was born in Palmer, Alaska in 1977 and spent his early years in a one-room cabin near Anchorage. His parents, he recalls, embodied the "back-to-nature movement" of the 1960s.
The Cycle "explores the parallels between locust swarms and humanity's habits of mass consumption and overpopulation, throiugh sculpture and site-specific installation," says Vessel Gallery director Lonnie Lee.
Of his work, Tilton says: "I am making a huge generalization but a lot of people I know work in offices and behind computers. I am not judging them because people have to make a living. But are we becoming more like insects? When I drive by an apartment building, I can’t help but see it as a hive. Seems like compartments for individuals to live in. We are connecting to one another in ways that look to me like we’re worker bees or worker ants, feeding the queen ant. Are we more insect-like in our behavior? And is that bad? Or maybe we are closer to insect hierarchies than we like to think.”
Lee describes Tilton's work as "a fine example of an artist who taps into the collective subconscious of humanity. The Cycle reveals the self-defeating and contradictory behaviors of society. Most will be moved to discomfort and reflection. Hopefully the audience will experience both an internal shift and a change of behavior. I urge everyone to see this show, as being enveloped by a giant locust swarm just might open pathways to our salvation.”
Fifty percent of the net sales of "Individuals" (the site-specific kinetic installation) will benefit the Alameda Food Bank.
Admission to show, which can be viewed Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 4-29, is free. A reception is set Friday, Oct 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition, Tilton will talk about his work from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, discussing his processes, thoughts, and approach toward creating this body of work.
"Are we insect-like in our behavior?"
"Are we like worker bees or worker ants?"
The Cycle should prod us to ponder those questions.