Looking into the heart of our inner courtyard at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court, hotel visitors can easily spot a golden, "Beehive" sculpture - a grand, glittering, mirrored tribute to our real live resident honeybees. When the hotel chose to begin hosting an urban apiary on their beautiful third-floor garden plaza, we spoke with Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, Founder and Director of the American Visionary Art Museum, the remarkable national museum that is our close neighbor on the Baltimore Inner Harbor.
Hoffberger immediately suggested that our hotel consider commissioning an "ideal complement" to our green gardening efforts - a shining sculptural “beehive” to be made by the local visionary artist and Maryland treasure, Bob Benson.
Benson's mirrored sculptures are prominently displayed throughout the American Visionary Art Museum. They include the crowd-pleasing, outdoor, 20-ft. tall, mirrored "Universal Tree of Life," twinkling just in front of the Museum's main entry and "Oceanus", the symbolic mirrored 'ocean' under the magnificent life-sized winged sculpture, "Black Icarus," created by famed British visionary artist Andrew Logan, in the Museum's dramatic central stair.
Benson and his frequent creative collaborator, Maryland artist Rick Ames, began immediately to engineer and design their special mirrored hive. As a base to their piece, the hotel providentially found and acquired a vintage 5' x 5' beehive prop, once featured in a Montgomery Ward Chicago department store window display. Arriving in a battered and poor condition, Benson and Ames worked for several weeks to repair the piece in preparation for years of new outdoor use. They filled in all of the holes, sealed it with fiberglass and gave it many coats of primer and gold paint to ensure stability. Then it was covered with thousands of pieces of mirrors in various colors with the primary design, a series of horizontal bands. The Beehive is topped with mirrored “bees” that “swarm” in the wind. The final result of the Benson/Ames collaboration is a stunning and playful work that now sparkles in the sun, moon and city lights.
Bob Benson's art work is often referred to as, “shiny happy things,” an apt description of their effect on the viewer. Bob and Rick give workshops at American Visionary Art Museum to show others how to create mirror art to shine in their own lives and homes. Benson's website, http://www.shinyhappythings.com features many of his late-in-life, shining mirror creations.
The American Visionary Art Museum, www.avam.org, is just an easy walk from the hotel and located at 800 Key Highway on the eastern slope of historic Federal Hill Park. Covered with mirrored mosaics created by Baltimore youth-at-risk apprentices, it provides a visitor experience that should not be missed.
We sincerely hope that you enjoy being a part of "the buzz" and the glow and the respect for the gifts of nature and art, all very much alive here at Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore!