By Michelle Baker
Photos by Randy Litzinger

Staycations are a chance to skip long lines, enjoy day trips, and find a few hidden jewels in your own backyard. Check out these unique bejeweled beetles in your own backyard this summer.

The National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) exhibit Canter and Crawl: The Glass Sculpture of Joan Danziger presents a solo show of DC-based artist Joan Danziger’s latest body of work.

Stimulating the imagination, Danziger’s vibrant wire and glass-shard sculptures are inspired by the spirit of the horse and the jewel-like nature of insects. The National Sporting Library & Museum, located in the heart of beautiful horse country, is the perfect setting for this exhibit.

Insects inspired by Egyptian scarab beetles from Danziger’s Inside the Underworld series hang on the walls, creating a backdrop for the more recent exploration of unrestrained horses born from her imagination. Canter and Crawl celebrates the horse and redefines equine sculpture for the contemporary world.

Purchase the beautiful exhibit catalog designed by Jody West and learn more about Danziger’s artwork and enjoy insightful essays from Georgetown University Professor Ori Z. Soltes and from NSLM Curator Claudia Pfeiffer.

In the catalog foreword, NSLM Executive Director Elizabeth von Hassell remarks on how the museum is the ideal location for Danziger’s captivating equine subjects, her latest body of work. “It is a wonderful opportunity to share these pieces with our visitors,” said von Hassell. “Danziger is an artist who has enjoyed a successful career spanning more than 40 years and continues to evolve and express fresh artistic perspectives. Her metal and glass beetles and horses are an uplifting interpretation of our mission to preserve, promote, and share the literature, art, and culture of equestrian, angling, and field sports.”

“It was such a great opening with enthusiastic art lovers looking at my glass galloping horses and crawling beetles,” said Danziger. “This is an important exhibit for me at a great museum.”

“I spent three years creating my series of horses and my love of these spirited and beautiful horses inspired these sculptures. The beetles imagery fascinated me with their mythological background and colors,” said the artist whose enthusiasm is apparent when she discusses her works.

In her Artist’s Statement, Danziger gives art lovers an insight into her creative vision. The mythology of horses and beetles fascinates me. Beetles come out of the earth and rise to the sun with resurrection and in mortality… beautiful with their iridescent bodies and wings. Horses run through the earth with the driving force of power, strength and freedom.

They are in motion-capturing a world of energy…they have a wonderful spirit. Sculpting these two different ideas was an exciting challenge. Glass and a metal armature created form, abstract patterns, and color. Shifting like through the open wire of the sculptures is a play of light and dark. Crawling and climbing colorful beetles with their sparkling glass glisten. My imagery world is full of my personal vision.

The exhibition, which opened on May 17, runs until Jan. 5, 2020. Founded in 1954, the renowned research library and fine art museum highlights the rich heritage and tradition of country pursuits. Angling, horsemanship, shooting, steeplechasing, foxhunting, flat racing, polo, coaching, and wildlife are among the subjects one can explore in the organization’s general stacks, rare book holdings, archives, and art collection.

There is no admission fee to the library. The museum charges $10 for adults, $8 for youths (age 13-18), and $8 for seniors. NSLM members and children age 12 and under are admitted free of charge. The library and museum hours are Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the above events or to RSVP, contact NSLM at 540-687-6542 x4 or Info@NationalSporting.org.

This article first appeared in the July 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.