Sunday, September 11, 2011

Invisible Curator: Natural History

by Robert Boyd

I don't know about you people, but this summer I have made it a point to spend as little time outside as possible. From front door to the car, from car to workplace, workplace back to car, car back to front door. However, if you have been outside a little more than me, you might have seen something like this:

photo by, stolen by me from Swamplot

You can see a lot more overheated squirrels here. What these squirrels need is a handy body of water in which to cool off.

Mary McCleary, We'll Take a Boat to the Land of Dreams, mixed media collage on paper, 2011

Unfortunately, all the ponds and puddles and birdbaths in Houston have dried up. Perhaps a change in diet would help Houston's squirrels--say nice cool cheesecake, right out of the fridge.

Joe Meiser, Groundhog with Cheesecake

You can go see Mary McCleary's squirrel at The Art League right now. Despite the presence of only one squirrel (that I noticed) in the show, it's pretty awesome. Joe Meiser's exhibit at Box 13 just closed, but you can see the artwork on his website.

In my daily peregrinations from my front door to my car, I haven't noticed any butterflies at all. My scientific conclusion is that they spontaneously combusted in Houston's volcanic heat this summer. Fortunately, lepidoptery and natural history have a solution--dead butterflies pinned to flat felt surface, displayed in the air-conditioned halls of a museum. But that's not good enough for art, which wants to remove us one more degree from living, fluttering butterflies.

Michael Crowder, Mariposa Mori, glass (pâte de verre), mahogany, felt, 2007


Michael Crowder, Mariposa Mori detail, glass (pâte de verre), mahogany, felt, 2007

Mariposa Mori is an elegant substitute for living lepidoptera, no?

Mary McCleary, Sugaring Moths, mixed mediia collage on paper, 2008

In contrast to Michael Crowder's elegant albino butterflies, Mary McCleary (her again!) has riotously colored moths. You can see Michael Crowder's work right now at State Fair, a group show at Diverse Works. His little section sticks out like a highly refined, unusually beautiful sore thumb in this curatorial cacophony.

These four pieces would make a nice little natural history museum. My favorite way to experience nature--well air-conditioned and insect free.


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