Natural beauty

Art on the Avenue put on a showcase at the Philadelphia Insectarium, blending the beauty of nature and art.

Art on the Avenue is expanding — and this time, it’s celebrating the outdoors.

Last weekend, six artists displayed their work among the green leaves and fluttering butterflies in the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion. Running from June 1 to 3, it was the second show organized by the Mayfair Arts Initiative — the first, back in February, saw two artists display their work at Prudential Bank.

One of those artists was Barb Baur, the chair of the initiative. She helped gather the six artists with local ties for this show, and coordinated with the Insectarium to get it set up.

“The theme of the show is insects and nature,” she said.

Walking through the vibrant paths of the Insectarium’s green space was enhanced by a new artist’s vision displayed around every corner. Artists Emily Nields, Sheila Fox, Jennifer Scott, Bill Myers, Scott Schultheis and Ty Derk showcased their nature- and insect-themed handiwork, ranging from photography to paintings to jewelry.

“I hate cockroaches,” said Schultheis, who had several paintings on display. One piece, Dancer, featured a mostly white canvas with a roach near the bottom, antennas splayed in attention.

“A lot of my art has to do with things that are grotesque or fearsome, but I make it approachable and playful,” he said. “It’s teasing the discomfort zone as well.”

Nields creates jewelry as a student at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. She had modeled some of her jewelry after insects because she was fascinated by their biology.

“I’m obsessed with bugs,” she laughed. “I love symmetry, and when I was working with jewelry, a lot of my stuff was asymmetrical. I needed a theme that worked with symmetry, and bugs are just naturally symmetrical.”

Her jewelry is movable, folding at joints with wing-liked paper folds between the pieces.

Hypnotic vocals from singer Jimmy Hines pealed through the ecosphere, setting a calming atmosphere.

The display at Prudential Bank had garnered positive buzz from the community, and Baur decided to give more artists a stage.

“There was so much enthusiasm over it, it just seemed silly not to continue,” she said.

She’s just getting started. The third showcase is already scheduled to appear July 27 through Aug. 5 at Stein’s Your Florist. It will feature the work of tattoo artist Bill Becker and more.

A second Northeast Philadelphia Arts Festival is already planned for April 13 next year. After this April’s successful inauguration, planners want to get the word out as early as possible. ••