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If you go

What: First Friday stink bug art exhibit

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 1

Where: MarketView Arts, 37 W. Philadelphia St., York

More information: Visit maryelhenderson.com

What: Artist Maryel Henderson will demonstrate her stink bug art at Wild and Woolly Art in the Park

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2

Where: Nixon County Park Nature Center, Nature Center, 5922 Nixon Road

For more information: Visit YorkArtAssociation.org or call 717-755-0028.

Stink bugs: they're those ugly, smelly little creatures that always seem to find a way into your house when you don't want them to. That's what most people would say, right?

Well, not Maryel Henderson.

Not only are stink bugs welcome in this Yoe artist's home, but they're encouraged to walk around her workspace as she begins her next piece. Henderson sees stink bugs as inspiration and she even has a rule that her guests can't kill them in her house.

"My husband calls me the stink bug whisperer," she said.

To Henderson, stink bugs aren't ugly. They're cute little bugs, and more than that, they are works of art.

"I've always liked the underdogs in the world, the things nobody in the world likes," she said.

Since 2010, when a stink bug landed on her one day, Henderson has been fascinated by the shield shape of its shell. The bug inspired her next art project, stink bug jewelry.

About five years ago, Henderson started painting bezels (pendants) and attaching painted stink bug shells on top. And to her surprise, they became very popular. She made nearly 200 in about three months and sent them to customers as far as Scotland, Scandinavia and Germany.

But now, Henderson has decided to switch her focus to stink bug art.

On First Friday, she will open her new studio space at MarketView Arts in York and display her stink bug artwork for the first time.

Guests are invited to snack on light refreshments while they look at work by MarketView artists, including Henderson and pet portrait artist Kelly Pedersen, who are sharing studio space.

Henderson's stink bug collection will include a few pieces of stink bug jewelry, stink bug paintings, stink bug-painted clocks, and sculptures of clay stink bugs on industrial light bulbs, pieces of wood from old trees and a wash ringer from an old washtub, she said.

Her work ranges from $40 for stink bug jewelry to $900 for some of the larger paintings. She also sells prints for around $100, she said.

Before she started doing stink bug art, Henderson said she mostly focused on painting colorful, realistic portraits of animals in atypical settings. She's painted lizards playing in a children's playground, polar bears cooling off in a home, and she's currently working on a painting of chameleons hanging from a ceiling fan.

So why the sudden focus on stink bugs?

"They're just clumsy and cute and awkward, and they kind of walk around like they're going through life minding their own business," she said.

Henderson said she still paints other animals, but she makes sure to include a signature stink bug in every painting.

After her MarketView debut, Henderson will be at the Wild and Woolly event at Nixon County Park, where guests can watch her work on her latest painting of a stink bug visiting the grave site of a relative.

She also has plans to publish a children's book about a pink frog and her pet stink bug, Kitty.

"I don't have a lot of expectations," she said. "I'm just getting my work out there. I think my work is fun, and people seem to like it, and that's enough for me."

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Wild and Woolly art comes to Nixon Park May 2

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