The “Beecycle” concept has been appearing in Matt Lively’s work since college when he created a sculpture of his first bumblebee cleverly augmenting his wing power with a wheel.
“I’ve always been interested in man using science to change nature,” says Lively, whose biologist dad originally inspired his interest in this mashup of science and art.
After college, Beecycle started popping up in random empty spots in Lively’s paintings. Soon the busy bee on a bike was a trademark of sorts for the artist, and eventually, the artist created a whole series of paintings showcasing the whimsical icon.
Now that the UCI Road World Championship cycling races are coming to Richmond, Lively’s Beecycle is really taking flight. In conjunction with the bike races in September, not only is Glave Kocen Gallery opening an exhibit of Lively’s work (along with more cycle-themed work by artist Benjamin Frey), but VMFA has also commissioned the artist to paint a mural of bees pedaling through the clouds in its newest Art Education Center exhibition, ArtCycle, opening September 6.
“I had seen Matt’s work around town, of course, and thought the subject and playfulness of his images would be the perfect fit for ArtCycle,” says VMFA Interpretation Manager and ArtCycle organizer, Courtney Morano.
In this mural, like his Beecycle paintings, Lively seeks to capture the single-mindedness of bees, flying in one direction, as one unit, and with one purpose. The sameness extends to the wheels, which are created with a five-gallon paint lid.
“There’s comfort in repetition,” says the artist. But what you don’t see, unless you look really closely (and we recommend you do so!), is that each bee is just a tiny bit different from the next!
The mural, which took Lively a little over a week to paint, will be completed this week and, along with ArtCycle, will be on view until June 30, 2016.