Episode 009: Harold P. Curtis Honey Co.
In which we discuss World Bee Day, Rimsky-Korsakov, and electric fences
World Bee Day is coming up this Saturday, May 20, and I wanted to write something for it.
We’ve all heard about the bee problems the world is having. During the winter of 2006-2007, beekeepers started reporting enormous losses in their colonies, often called Colony Collapse Disorder [CCD]. Causes include poisonous pesticides, invasive mites, emerging diseases, poor forage areas, and others. Much has been done since the initial reports, and things have stabilized a bit thankfully – let’s remember, bees are responsible for an enormous portion of the food we eat. But there are still significant issues.
What Matt Willey at The Good of the Hive is doing is just remarkable, both in the artistic and active community engagement senses. The man is creating paintings of 50,000 honey bees—the number in a healthy hive—in murals and installations around the world. I think he is close to 9,000 at this point.
What better way to honor World Bee Day than with the mural that started it all, painted by Willey in 2015 for the Harold P. Curtis Honey Co.
Man, do I love these murals Willey is painting. Each powerful piece is distinct and lovely in its own way.
The challenge for me was the coloring. A somewhat limited palette, especially in this mural. I could have included the kids and the flowers to change it up a little, but really what matters most here?
The bees and the honey. That is what was important. Kids and flowers, great of course, but the bees and the honey…
For this reduction, I really played with the composition. Sometimes I have to when taking something with particularly uneven dimensions and reducing it to a square. The honeycombs and the four bees flying in the center of the wall were the objects I focused on, so I just ended up putting them on top of each other.
Plus, I think the bees I made are pretty adorable.
The picture of the mural seems to have been taken on a beautiful, breezy day. I wanted to capture that momentary environment of the art with a lilting main theme that starts at an odd point in the measure. It gives the beat a floating quality.
The beat picks up steam along the way, starting with the pulsing drone, bouncing bass, and very little in the way of drums. Eventually, it works its way up to a couple of separate beats happening simultaneously.
And then the drop!
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee is one of the most famous, best-loved works in the history of classical music. I thought it would be fun to update this notoriously difficult piece in the Polyester-manner near the end of the beat.
This is about as fast as I can play anything. Doubling it on two different patches was nearly impossible, and it probably sounds it.
It also sounds like bees! Confused bees, maybe. But busy, buzzing bees nonetheless!
Keeping bees has been an oft-discussed topic here on the mountain. We have visited a couple of honey-making facilities over the years, and I even have a lifelong friend who keeps bees. [I’m looking at you, Fred James.]
But we have bears. Lots of bears walking around here all the time. It’s a regular Jellystone Park.
Until next week, thanks for reading Polyester City. If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment by clicking the link above. If you know anyone who likes Music and Art and Stories [and saving bees], which is pretty much everyone, please consider sharing by clicking the link below.