Celebrating Creativity Through the Eyes of a Bug
Bugs are getting lots of press lately. New Jersey, where I live, has a Brown Marmorated Stinkbug problem that has developed in the past several years. These tough, flying bugs like to come buzzing into our houses. They have a rank, “green” smell when you smash them. Yes, I do smash them when I find them in MY house. I’ve grown used to that smell. Also, the East Coast is increasingly suddenly suffering with bed bugs. So far I am counting my lucky stars that these pests haven’t found my residence. May and June are known for the appearance (outside, at least!) of “June bugs”. This bug, though, has become the official mascot of art appreciation in the town of Metuchen, New Jersey, which is having its 4th annual Magical, Mystical Junebug ArtFest on Friday nights in June to celebrate the creativity that brings pleasure and meaning to our lives.
This event is the brainchild of Metuchen’s resident ceramist, Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella. Linda is a creative force in town already with her art studio being a hub for clay students of all ages. I met Linda years ago, when we both belonged to “Cycles”, a group of women artists. A couple of years ago we reconnected to have a show she envisioned at Metuchen’s Westerhoff Gallery. When Linda asked me if I’d be interested in creating this year’s Junebug sculpture to preside over the town for the month, I’d just finished having my solo show at Rider University Art Gallery, and was recalibrating. I’d never made a work of art to stay outside before, and decided to take her up on this challenge.
The result is a mostly aluminum sculpture that draws from ideas in my series of artworks utilizing lattice motifs to represent our deep interconnectedness with the natural environment. The lattice sculptures are as much permeable membranes as they are concrete objects. They influence as well as alter a particular view or a particular viewpoint. I understand my own outlook as the lattice through which I experience and process whatever life and environment have in store for me. I find this connectedness endlessly intriguing.
My “June Love” sculpture on display in Metuchen this month is a natural extension of the lattice idea. I used metal mesh and perforated sheeting for both practical and conceptual reasons. The open “latticed” metal textures make the sculpture lighter and less susceptible to the wind. June bugs eat leaves, often leaving only a lattice of veins. They have abdomens and under-wings that are transparent but for the veins.
I took lots of artistic license with my junebug. Her antennae became more like arm feelers, and I left off her long legs entirely. She is much more glamorous with her swarovsky crystal eyes, than the real thing. Perhaps my June bug will inspire romance; she chewed a heart-shaped hole from her leaf in honor of June brides and true love.
Having grown up on Edward Lear’s BOOK OF NONSENSE, I couldn’t resist being inspired by my own bug and also came up with several goofy verses on the theme:
There once was a beetle named JUNE
Who would sit on a tree and just croon
As she dined night & day on green leaves she would say,
“Why can’t I just sing a nice tune*?”
*June bugs are not known for making a melodious sound.
There was a small town named METUCHEN
Whose residents sang songs in Russian*
They danced through the night to the June bug’s delight,
Those wonderful folks of Metuchen.
* I have no idea whether or not Metuchenites actually sing any songs in Russian.
There was a June bug in Metuchen
Who so loved the leaf she was clutchin’,
She nibbled away in a heart-shaped display
That lovely young bug of Metuchen
There is a schedule of events for the ArtFest including presentations by visual artists Sandy Skoglund and Jane Dickson, musicians and filmmakers. For a complete celebration of creativity, come to Metuchen on a Friday evening this month and reflect on what impact the creativity of musicians, filmmakers, chefs, writers, and visual artists has on your own life, and what that’s worth. My own answer? Priceless!
This 4th annual festival features a range of activities throughout downtown Metuchen, including open air exhibits, window galleries, live music, interactive art events and open-mic sessions featuring poets and performers.
EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT:
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm – Interactive events for children and adults in front of Borough Hall
- 6:00 – 9:00 pm – The always-popular “chalkwalk” near Borough Hall
- 6:00 – 9:00 pm – More than 75 local and regional artists exhibiting a variety of work from paintings and ceramics to stained glass, jewelry and photographs
- 7:00 – 10:00 pm – Live music at a range of venues throughout town, ranging from Brazilian to Bluegrass to Class Rock to open mic performances
FRIDAY, JUNE 3
- 7:00 pm – An Opening Night Bug (Near Metuchen Savings Bank on Main Street): Unveiling of the annual “Junebug Sculpture”, which will preside over the ArtFest throughout June
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm – Interactive Activities @ Borough Hall:
- 1) Create Your Own Hats (Mickey Waring & Kathy Glaser) with a “Parade of Hats” @ 8pm
- 2) Performance by local musician and children’s entertainer Michael Napolitano from Preschool of Rock (6:30 pm)
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm – Accepting entries @ Tooly Burger & Salad for two art competitions (complete information for entering art work can be found in the “contest” link above)
NEXT FRIDAY, JUNE 10
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm – Interactive Events1) Wanda from Little Fish Art will help participants create fans and Chinese wooden tops @ Borough Hall2) Laurie LeFevre Theater for Kids – (6:00 – 7:00 pm) Miss Laurie will coordinate a “Music for Kids” event located in the Convery Courtyard (next to the Cigar shop on Main Street)
- 7:00 pm – Pet Parade @ Forum Theatre – Registration @ 6:30 pm
- 6:00 – 9:00 pm – Gallery Opening @ the Senior Center – Featuring artwork created by 9 students of Joan Watterson’s water color class that takes place weekly at the Metuchen Senior Center.
- Skoglund/Dickson Films Shown – To acquaint ArtFest visitors with the two master artists who will give presentations later in the month (see below), several short films introducing them and their work will be shown on the side street/driveway near 443 Main Street, Classic Travel & Tours
Metuchen, New Jersey, has been a mecca for artists of every discipline for more than a century, and its annual Junebug ArtFest reinforces our central NJ community as one that nurtures all forms of creativity and is a true “home” for the arts.
Begun in 2008, the Junebug Artfest is an annual FREE event—co-sponsored by the Metuchen Area Chamber of Commerce and the Metuchen Cultural Arts Commission and supported by the business community of Metuchen. The ArtFest is NOT a street-fair; it is a genuine art festival, where makers and performers share their creations and visitors have an opportunity to experience art of all types. In the wake of budget cuts and decreased support for “arts education”, our home-grown festival is more important than ever before.
For the first time this year, the Junebug Committee was able to include two internationally recognized visual artists as guest lecturers thanks to a successful fundraising campaign through the arts funding website www.kickstarter.com. Our 40-day campaign gave the ArtFest a national platform to raise money to bring Sandy Skoglund and Jane Dickson to Metuchen, taking the Junebug to a new level.