press release from Hendersonville Tree Board:
A contract signed on January 27 will result in a larger-than-life mural on the exterior walls of Hands On! Children’s Museum facing onto Azalea parking lot on Third Ave. E. The mural will celebrate bees and their importance especially in this agricultural county with a reliance on apples, small fruits, vegetables, and beautiful landscape – all of which rely on the work of pollinators. The contract was signed with artist Matthew Willey, who has a 25-year career of painting large, realistic murals. He founded his company, The Good of the Hive, as a personal commitment to hand-paint 50,000 honey bees in murals around the world. Through art and imagination, his work inspires curiosity and awareness about the importance of honey bees and other pollinators while celebrating the power in human connection.
The mural will be painted later this year. Fundraising is on-going for the total goal of $35,000, which will include not only the mural itself, but also surface preparation and other supportive costs.
The “Bring the Hive Alive” mural project in Hendersonville was kicked off last June during Pollinator Month, which is part of Hendersonville’s Bee City USA program. Coordinator Kim Bailey has been instrumental in the fundraising/educational portion of the project. “In order to contract the muralist, our goal was to have raised at least $12,500 by the end of 2019,” she said, “which we did through enthusiastic community support. Now we begin the second phase of fundraising to get the mural on the wall. We look forward to seeing the beautiful bee mural to inspire us all for years to come.”
When Will The Mural Be Painted?
Matt Willey will likely paint the mural in June or October. The date will soon be confirmed. During the weeks it will take to paint the mural, Matt purposefully involves viewers, thus becoming a pollinator educator as well as a painter.
Steve Pettis, a Henderson County Extension agent, believes the educational aspect of this project is significant. “It is important to keep pollinators in people’s consciousness. If you see a mural such as this, it will remind you that bees are important and it might be the thing that causes you to pick that pesky tomato hornworm off of your plant rather than using a pesticide.”
Why A Bee Mural?
“This project helps extend the children’s museum’s mission of inspiring creativity and wonder through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) to the entire community,” according to Joseph Knight, director of the downtown museum. In addition, it adds to the art appeal of downtown’s ArtScape banners, colorful bears, and the large handsome mosaic nature scene … all of which make downtown Hendersonville a family-friendly arts destination. It also gives a significant nod to our community’s agricultural businesses, acknowledging that honey bees and other pollinators are important to our economy and heritage.
Continuing Community Support
Hands On! Children’s Museum is hosting an online crowd-funding campaign with rewards donated by local organizations and businesses. Supporter levels range from $25 to $100 and include thank-you gifts such as jars of local honey from the Henderson County Beekeepers Association, stickers from The Good of the Hive, honey bee window clings from Hendersonville’s Bee City USA affiliate, a coupon for $20 off a $40+ purchase from B.B. Barns Garden Center, and enrollment in the “How to Grow a Pollinator Café” online course from Gardens That Matter. Donate online at www.handsonwnc.org/hive.
Mural sponsorship opportunities are also available. Sponsors will be recognized on a permanent plaque alongside the bee mural.
· Honey Makers ($5,000+)
· Comb Builders ($2,500)
· Pollen Foragers ($1,000)
· Nectar Gatherers ($500)
· Buzz Makers ($250)
Donations small and large, as well as in-kind donations, are being accepted, according to Bailey. Checks can be written to Hands On! (write “bee mural” in the info line) and mailed to Hands On Children’s Museum, 318 North Main St., Hendersonville, NC 28792 … or contribute in person at Hands On during business hours.
Thanks to generous in-kind and cash donations from the Community Foundation of Henderson County, Burlett Painting, and Hands On! Children’s Museum along with Henderson County Beekeepers Assoc. and the City of Hendersonville, many other donations large and small have helped move the effort along. For example, Sideways Farm and Brewery collected over $1,000 in tips during the month of November to support the mural project. In addition, numerous conservation, agriculture/horticulture, and educational organizations have made donations including Blue Ridge Apple Growers, MountainTrue, Land O’ Sky Garden Club, and even the Honey Bees Kindergarten Class at FernLeaf Community Charter School. As a result, the contract with The Good of the Hive to paint the mural in 2020 has been signed.
Long-lasting Effect Of The Mural
Willey has painted a bee mural in Gastonia, N.C. and Merryman Cassels, the owner of the building on which it was painted, said, “The Good of the Hive mural on the facade of our Main Avenue shop has become a downtown icon. It is not only beloved, but brings a sense of pride and ownership that extends beyond our center city. It has sparked meaningful conversation and awareness around not only bees, but what it means to live in community. Matt Willey’s mission is a powerful one, and we are proud to be a part of the larger hive he is creating.”
Such encouragement has inspired local organizations and businesses to organize upcoming events. For example, Chef Michael Gilligan of Harvey’s at The Henderson Inn is planning a special pollinator-themed dinner in June. The annual Garden Jubilee event in May will include a new garden education area at the Visitors Center, and the Bee City USA booth will have items of interest for sale to benefit the mural.
For more information or to propose a fundraising event, contact Kim Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the initiative’s progress at facebook.com/BringtheHiveAlive. Learn more about the artist and The Good of the Hive at www.thegoodofthehive.com.