handmade, human stories


Bumblebee ScreeningAugust 21, 2012

If you hang around Downey and you're lucky, you might spot paintings of children in black and yellow tucked away on the sides of buildings. These are the work of Bumblebee, who has become a dear friend of ours. James and I visited one of his pieces early last year - Bee is for Ballerina (it has since been painted over), and brought a camera along. We shot some footage for fun, not knowing what we would do with it and started speculating about who Bumblebee was since we had seen other pieces around town. It was exciting to think of this elusive force lurking around Downey consciously creating these works that were hidden in plain sight. Soon after, that ballerina showed up on the front page of The Patriot along with an interview with Bumblebee himself.

As I read the article, something Bumblebee said screamed out at me, "These paintings are all up for interpretation, but I can say that these haunting images of children playing around bees reflect my message of innocence and coming of age. To me, bees are a sign of vulnerability. I do beelieve that children best represent this quality also."

The idea of vulnerability is very dear to me. Madeleine L'Engle articulated it so clearly in one of my all-time favorite quotes, "When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability...to be alive is to be vulnerable." In my first email to Bumblebee, I sent him that quote and he responded by saying that our connection "was meant to bee."

Bumblebee Loves You - Click to Watch

We met and started on our journey to paint a portrait of the artist through the lens of a camera. Whenever Bumblebee had something going on he called me up, and if I wasn't at work, I was there. One of the biggest things I took away from my time with Bumblebee was how much he worked. Every spare moment he had was spent on making something. I was awestruck by how dedicated he was to his craft and realized that what he had accomplished was due to nothing but painstaking, hard work. Piece by piece, footage was gathered and after several months I was able to stitch together the short film we have. I was planning to just put it on our website in May but Bumblebee wanted to wait for a proper presentation.

At The Epic Lounge

This past Sunday, the Downey Arts Coalition hosted a screening at The Epic Lounge. I was so surprised by the massive turn out. I heard that some people didn't get to watch because they were crowded outside the door. It was such a delight to see and meet so many people interested in art and creativity in our community. The Downey Patriot, Carmichael Gallery, Downey Art Vibe and even local shops are all to thank for promoting the event. But all of this wouldn't have been possibly without the artist that inspired it all and continues to inspire me. Bumblebee, we love you too. Check out some coverage of the event by our friends Joan and Pam at Downey Daily Photos here and here.

posted by julian

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A Trip to Caine's ArcadeApril 16, 2012

This past Saturday, we went out to Caine's Arcade. If you don't know about Caine and his cardboard arcade, check out this amazing short:

Some people travelled long distances to support Caine.
Some people travelled long distances to support Caine.

It was the first weekend after the video had been released so when we got there, it was jam packed full of all kinds of people. An ABC 7 Eye Witness News crew was there as well. The wait in line was a little over an hour. During that time, we met a French woman named Valerie and her creative son Teo who showed us his stop-motion animations on their iPad.

Nirvan is a cool dude.

We also got to talk to Nirvan, the filmmaker behind Caine's Arcade. I personally thanked him for his short because it touched a very precise part of my past that I didn't know was still there. I'm sure we've all had fun with cardboard as children. Caine's Arcade took me back to one particular day when my best friend and I were given complete freedom by his father and let loose on a giant pile of empty cardboard boxes. We spent the whole day running around his garage constructing an elaborate tunnel system, fitted with high security entrances and secret passage ways. When I got home at the end of the day, my mom scolded me because the heels and toes of my socks were completely worn off from running around in the garage without shoes.

Caine refilling the claw machine with prizes.
Caine refilling the claw machine with prizes.

Nirvan said that this explosion of support had turned Caine's Arcade into a mecca for people returning to their childhood. He shared a story that someone from The Simpsons came and when they saw the arcade, broke down and wept. He described it as a Ratatouille, Anton Ego moment - a rush of nostalgia.

We all got fun passes.
We all got fun passes.

Caine was just being a kid when he made his arcade. Stumbling upon that arcade invited Nirvan to just be a kid. The world's gonna tell you to grow up but when you're brave enough to say no and just be a kid, everybody wants to join you. I interviewed Bumblebee yesterday and he talked about that same child-like wonder and innocence that he expresses through his art. Look forward to our piece on him coming in a few weeks. Keep that inner child alive.

posted by julian

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First PostOctober 3, 2011


Welcome to the new HANDi website! Our slogan is "handmade, human stories" because we want to hand craft stories that focus on our common struggles and highlight the human qualities that unite us all. If you haven't already, check out our stories.

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posted by julian