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Big Bugs Emerge at Lewis Ginter

Big Bugs officially opened today and will be at Lewis Ginter until August 28th. The exhibit is included in your normal Lewis Ginter admission.



Bee and Flower – Materials used: black walnut, black locust, red cedar, and black walnut. All wood either deadwood or harvested sustainably. Size: Flower is 5ft 5 in in diameter and 9 feet tall.

Did you know that 75% of the earth’s flowering plants and over 70% of its food crops depend on pollinators to thrive? Think about a world without coffee and chocolate?! That’s pretty powerful! This summer, we are putting the spotlight on bugs and birds in a BIG way. Artist David Rogers’ Big Bugs: The Pollinatorsshowcases larger-than-life sculptures highlighting the importance of pollinators and preserving their habitats. Big Bugs is part of M&T Bank Pollinator Power which also includes Butterflies LIVE!

Visitors of all ages and abilities will explore the wonder and craftsmanship of these ten oversized pollinator sculptures created from combinations of found or fallen whole trees, willow limbs, twigs, branches and other forest material. Discover giant ladybugs on a branch, a 17-foot-long daddy longlegs,  a giant dragonfly, a beautiful hummingbird and more!

Ladybugs on Branch – Materials used: red cedar, black walnut, and black locusts. Size: Ladybugs are 2.5 feet L, 2.5 W, and 2.5 Dia. The Sticke is 9 feet long and 34 inches wide

Humming Bird Flower – Materials used: rainbow popular, black walnut, red cedar, black locust Size: Hummingbird is 3.5 feet long and 3.5 feet wide Flower is 5 feet 3 inches wide (there are more flowers out of frame) and 8 feet 3 inches high.

Dragonfly Materials used: red cedar and willow Size: 17 feet long and 17 feet wide

Daddy Long Legs Materials Used: red cedar and willow, Size: 17 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 10 feet high

The artist David Rogers is a renaissance man. As a child, he was in the woods near his home in Long Island, New York exploring and building. Treehouses and fascination with insects of all sorts caught his interest pretty much like most kids that spend time out in nature. Traditional school wasn’t the right fit for David but hands-on learning certainly was the right fit.

Working for a boatbuilder, cabinetmaker, and rustic furniture maker gave him a foundation for all the works you’ll see at Lewis Ginter. Welding which he picked up in boatbuilding is crucial in building the supports for all the bugs. The largest at Lewis Ginter is 1,200 lbs of black locust. Wood alone would suffice for keeping such weight and unique form standing so skill learned many years ago came into play. Knowing the properties of wood and the finish required was a constant across all his previous “real jobs”. On pieces that have more curves such as Spider and Web and Bee and Beehive use willow which was a crucial ingredient in previous what he called “Victorian Rustic” earlier works. Big Bugs made their debut in Dallas in 1994.  The works found their obvious niche in botanical gardens and soon after hit the road. Lewis Ginter Gardens was one of the first to appreciate the exhibit and they made their first appearance here in 1999. Since that start in Dallas the bugs have traveled all across the country and appeared in close to a 100 locations. As David told me, “You don’t have to have a lot of good ideas. All you need is one really good one.”

David loves every aspect of his work even the mundane task of driving a truck full of big bugs across the country for the next exhibit and it shows. He’s quick to smile, and laugh and enjoys talking about his work and the role that insects play. Giant insects could be something that inspires fear like a creature from a bad 70’s monster flick. These bugs with their warm tones, natural materials, and inviting setting instead give a feeling of creativity, curiosity, and exploration. You can check out more of David’s work on his website.

While we were there the last piece Spider and Web was going into place. David had help from his wife/assistant and several Lewis Ginter employees.

A close-up of the armature on the Spider Web. Other works have similar armature but this is a rare case of being able to see it directly. The willow you see has to be replaced about every three to 5 years.

Artist David Rodgers attaching two web halves.

The Spiderweb which is 12 feet by 12 feet is moved into position.

Knot tying skills come into play as the work was set into position.

We weren’t able to stay for the finishing touches you’ll have to head to Lewis Ginter and check that out on your own. Big Bugs will be in the gardens from Friday, May 27th to Sunday, August 28th. You can purchase tickets to Lewis Ginter here.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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