In 2006 I started making regular trips to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to take photos. In July of that year, who should make an appearance but the Big Bugs!? Because I had taken digital pictures of the ones we saw back in 2003, they were pretty familiar to me and it was like seeing old friends. I was thrilled that they installed a good number of them in the gardens and enjoyed seeing and photographing them in all sorts of weather over the next few months. During my regular hikes around the grounds, I noticed that there was a sort of workshop set up in a large container, like the ones hauled on semi-trucks. It was in a small parking lot at the back of the gardens and I frequently walked past it on my way to the wooded trails. I sometimes saw a man working with wood and tools there, but never had the nerve to walk up and start a conversation.
David with his goliath harvestman sculpture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, March, 2007
I happened to stop by the Wildflower Center on the day that they installed the new sculpture. At David's request, I photographed him with several workers as they put the finishing touches on the new bug. It was impressive, towering over a human head on its eight spindly legs.
Shortly after that, the Big Bugs were packed up and shipped away. Nothing quite so entertaining has yet replaced them in the various temporary exhibits that occupy the gardens.
There is one more chapter in my acquaintance with the Big Bugs. I recently got a request from a friend to provide photos for an online gallery being produced by the San Antonio newspaper, which was publishing an article in preparation for a new exhibit at their local Botanical Garden. The request was for various species of arthropods, including our biggest examples, such as a tarantula, black witch moth, ox beetle, and giant desert centipede. The purpose of the article? To advertise the arrival of the Big Bugs! Once I realized what the article was about, I also included images of a praying mantis and a wheel bug, two sculpture subjects which I thought were quite outstanding in the collection. After the fun I've had photographing the art, I had no qualms about providing a few photos to advertise their most current exhibit.
I am sure that loads of people will enjoy the Big Bugs during their stay in San Antonio. I might even make a trek down that way and enjoy them once again, before David retires his menagerie from the tour circuit in order to pursue other artistic endeavors.
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