Insecta Etcetera Taking Flight

At art shows, John is often asked, “How did you get into this?”  Raised in the Berkshire Mountain area of Massachusetts, a middle child between five siblings, his parents would often find him wandering off through a meadow alone when they were attempting to gather their brood together. He was fascinated with butterflies, tiny insects, caterpillars, and the plants he found them on. He couldn’t understand why other kids weren’t as curious, although he was fortunate to have an older brother who taught him how to collect butterflies and moths with a net.  From an early age, he was compelled to search for, identify, and learn more about the insects he found. We recently ordered a copy of The Bug Girl book that was written by 10-year-old author, Sophia Spencer, who loves arachnids, butterflies, and arthropods. Her story reminds me of what John must have been like as a young boy.

As he grew, it also became apparent to everyone but himself, that he had artistic talents. Again, he was surprised that other kids didn’t possess the ability to capture what they saw in drawings. The first time he was asked to draw a dog in class, he was shocked at the other kids’ stick figure! He assumed anyone could draw a realistic looking dog! He continued to take art classes, creating all types of artwork, throughout public school and later in college. For a printmaking class, he created a detailed etching of an insect and entitled the work, Insecta.

When we met in the 1970s, I was impressed with his artistic talent, his knowledge of history, and his love and knowledge of the natural world. He was also the first butterfly collector I had ever met. Wherever we hiked, he’d stop on the trail to identify a tree, wildflower, or butterfly.  Many, many years later after we forged our separate ways into the adult world, we found each other again. The first thing he gave me was a beautiful, Riker-mounted frame of some of his favorite butterflies. I had it professionally framed; years later he made another for our house with Sulphur butterflies from around the world.

In 2017, after we both had retired, we bought a very small house and no longer had room for John’s custom-made Cornell Cabinet, a multi-drawer cabinet to display his butterfly and moth collections from around the world. He posted it for sale on insectnet.com, and a former college butterfly collector from the east coast saw the post. He recognized the cabinet and called John to tell him not to get rid of his collection. He said, “With your artistic talent and entomological expertise, you should be creating framed butterflies and selling them at art fairs!”

At the same time, a contractor who was remodeling our home noticed our butterfly artwork and asked John how he could get one for his niece, who has a passion for entomology and lepidoptera.  So, he made him a frame!  When his wife saw it, she ordered another for their house. We looked at each other and thought that the universe was telling us to start a butterfly art business!  When we started, we weren’t sure how butterflies would sell, so we were considering selling some other types of John’s artwork. That’s why we named the business, Insecta Etcetera.  Today, he has expanded his work to include interesting and educational frames of beetles, arachnids, grasshoppers, dragonflies, stick and leaf insects, etcetera!