Hendersonville Community Invited to Help Paint Downtown Bee Mural

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Like a paint-by-number template, the ground-level sections of the Bee Mural downtown will soon be outlined and ready for folks to paint. From ages five and up, enthusiasts will be able to add their own touch to the mural.

Artist Matt Willey has recently been painting honey drips, chrysalises, and a butterfly on the mural being created on the exterior wall of Hands On! Children’s Museum, located in the Azalea Parking Lot on Third Ave. E. between N, Main St. and King St. in downtown Hendersonville.

On Saturday, May 1, the community is invited to join him and make a personal mark by painting a petal or two on the mural. There is no charge to participate, however pre-registration is required to limit group size according to CDC guidelines. Masks and social distancing are also required. Reservation time slots are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis for 10 am to 11 am; 11 am to 12 pm; and 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm.  Registration will close once all spaces have been reserved or by 8 pm on Friday, April 30. Reservations can be made online at https://calendly.com/beecityhendersonville/paint.

In case of poor weather on Saturday, May 1, reservations will automatically transfer to the following day, Sunday, May 2.  In case of rain on May 2, registrants may reschedule for Saturday, May 8. Children under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

Volunteers from the Arts Council of Henderson County will assist painters and provide single-use paintbrushes and cups of paint. Volunteers will also be available to take photos of painters and their “petals in progress.”  Participants may rotate through additional activity stations and learn about honey bees from local members of Henderson County Beekeepers Assoc.; look for the queen bee in the glass observation hive; make a human-size pair of antennae; create pollinator crafts with educators from the Hands On! Children’s Museum; and plant seeds to start a personal pollinator garden with assistance from Hendersonville’s Bee City USA volunteers.

“This is an opportunity for the community to celebrate and participate in this artistic, colorful, legacy project,” said Kim Bailey, coordinator for the Bee Mural project.  “In fact, it’s the community coming together to make the bee mural project possible in downtown Hendersonville that we are actually celebrating.  Small groups of  all ages will be able to “paint a petal” on the wall — at ground level, no one on the lift — with artist Matt Willey as this lovely, educational mural nears completion.”

Don’t Forget The Garden Nearby

A demonstration pollinator garden, planted last fall in the nearby areas of Azalea parking lot, where the work on the mural is most visible, is also coming to life as Willey, the bees, and springtime return.  Landscape architect Tricia King of TTK Design transformed traffic islands at the site into a diverse habitat to serve as a working pollinator garden and demonstration plot for the community.  In addition to butterfly weed and coreopsis, for example, springtime visitors will see indigo, sage, and white wood aster.  All plants are labeled for easy reference, and King designed the pollinator-friendly garden to be handsome year-round.  The garden bed directly below the mural will be planted once the mural is finished.  “Bee hotels” to provide nesting sites for docile solitary bees such as mason bees will be installed this spring by Spriggly’s Beescaping.

Willey, who established his company, The Good of the Hive, with a mission to paint 50,000 honey bees on walls around the world, said he is excited to have community participation in painting the wall.  “The interest in the community for this special mural has been heartwarming,” he said.  “So many folks and businesses have participated to make this project possible, and I really enjoy meeting people and helping them leave their mark on the mural.”

Why Are The Mural and Pollinator Garden Important?

In addition to its classroom aspects, 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, executive director.  Additionally, the mural expands the growing art appeal of downtown Hendersonville’s ArtScape banners, colorful hand-painted bears, and the large handsome mosaic nature scene created by Ukrainian mosaic artists in the 1990s … all of which make downtown Hendersonville a family-friendly arts destination. The Bee Mural is included on the Appalachian Mural Trail along with five other murals on or around Main Street (www.muraltrail.com).  Most significantly, according to many bee-mural enthusiasts, it points to the important agricultural businesses and farm-to-table movement in Henderson County, acknowledging that honey bees and other pollinators are important to the community’s economy and heritage.

To encourage and assist homeowners and residents in selecting plants to support pollinators, Hendersonville Tree Board has updated its List of Recommended Tree Species and expanded the section devoted to wildlife and pollinator habitats. In addition to locally adapted native flowers, grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees the list includes locations of demonstration pollinator gardens open to the public. Find it at www.hendersonvillenc.gov/tree-species-list.

How the Bee Mural Project is Funded

“Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of this whole project has been the overwhelming enthusiasm and support we have seen from many different segments of the community,” Bailey said.  “So much so, that the project is wholly funded by donations from the community.  It is heartening to know that whether you have an agricultural interest, a gardening interest, an educational aspect, a child’s eye, or even an artistic leaning, neighbors and friends across the area want to reflect their appreciation for pollinators and their importance to our lives and the ecosystem.”

Fundraising events and in-kind support during the past two years have involved numerous businesses, individuals, and organizations, with 65 sponsors and countless other contributors so far (see www.handsonwnc.org/hivesponsors).  From apple growers, to nurseries, to artists, schoolchildren, nonprofit organizations, beekeepers, food and beverage-related businesses, many individuals, garden clubs, and more, a diverse group has come together to support the Bee Mural Project. The community raised money or provided in-kind donations to pay the artist, prepare the wall where the mural is painted, and install the pollinator demonstration garden … no tax-related funds were used.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available.  Funds will be used to enhance the pollinator gardens, add educational signage, and expand learning experiences and/or exhibits related to pollinators.

The landscaping project is funded by a Deer Park Brand sustainability grant in partnership with Blue Ridge Parkway Association. The grant is designated for projects that inspire individuals to preserve the ecosystems within our communities.  Henderson County Tourism Development Association applied for the grant on behalf of the Bee Mural initiative.  In addition, Botanical Treasures, a local wholesaler, donated the majority of the nursery-propagated native perennials for the project.

The Bee Mural Project is a partnership of Bee City USA Hendersonville (a program of The City of Hendersonville Tree Board and Environmental Sustainability Board), Hands On! Children’s Museum, and The Good of the Hive, in partnership with nonprofit organizations, schools, local businesses, and community members.  The goals of this initiative are to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators; bring beauty and character to downtown Hendersonville; celebrate the power in human connection; and inspire actions to help sustain healthy ecosystems.  Follow the bee mural initiative’s progress at www.facebook.com/beecityhendersonville.   Learn more about Willey’s mission and mural projects at www.thegoodofthehive.com.

Prepared by Bee City USA Hendersonville.