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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