atPrivate ResidenceSan Diego, CA
I painted this mural for a local beekeeper named Shauna Aiken in my hometown of Ocean Beach in San Diego, California (Shauna calls it Oh Bee). She wanted a mural to make people think about bees since they are so important to our world. When I met with her, she told me that her family bought property in Ocean Beach in 1887 when plots of land were only $25. Her family bought 2 and have been here ever since. She showed me photos of her Grandma Willie, a local Obecian, who was a really interesting character. She had all her fingernails painted different colors with glitter on them, would wear textured stockings, wild clothing, and had a husband who built UFOs in the front yard. After seeing pictures of her, I really wanted to paint her because she seemed really cool and captures the essence of what I feel Ocean Beach is all about. I combined the ideas of a mural about bees along with Shauna's family history and ultimately the history of Ocean Beach to create this image.
Shauna requested an elephant handing a heart to a bee in the mural because she learned about a project in Africa where they are using bees to protect elephants. Elephants were getting killed because they were trampling farmer's crops. Some people discovered that elephants are instinctually scared of honeybees so the Bee and Elephant Project started making "bee fences" by putting beehives around areas where elephants were unwanted. This has resulted in saving many elephants from being killed as well as helps provide farmers with improved pollination for their crops and income from sustainable honey sales. The program has been implemented in 9 African countries including Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana, and Uganda, as well as in Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. It's a great example of how we can use nature to solve problems!
Photos by myself, Lindsey Spieker, and Nicholas Schluep.