There are some places that are uniquely welcoming and inspiring; New Hope, in Solebury Township, in the historic and well known Bucks County Pennsylvania is one of these places. It is a place that draws many people, to its unique culture and character. Hardly a day goes by, where we don't say, "What a great place to be..." The town is seated in the beautiful Delaware River Valley. A scenic and picturesque stretch of the 60 mile long towpath in the Delaware Canal State Park goes right through the center of town, where you can walk along and hear the whistles of the still operating 1925 steam engine of the New Hope Ivyland Railroad. Organic farms and orchards, and a number of wineries and vineyards cover the surrounding hills. New Hope is just a few miles from where George Washington crossed the Delaware, and a short distance from where the Liberty Bell rang out in Philadelphia. The Visit Bucks County website says "New Hope is a "Small town, with a big city feel". This is a good description. New Hope's streets are lined with art galleries, restaurants, and antique shops, and the people are diverse, eclectic and energetic.
We got to thinking that it would be great to find a way to share the amazing aspects of this place, with others. To create something people could take with them to remember the experiences they have here. So, we got to talking and researching the history of the town. When you look at old photos, you see these characters a lot...
No, not the people, those mules. They're photo-bombing everywhere! Look at them, they look like they're mugging for the camera and reluctantly "letting" the people be in their shot, one wrong move and no doubt those folks are mule-kicked into the canal. The Lucky Three Ranch website, does a nice job of describing the charismatic creatures;
"The mule is a hybrid cross between a male donkey (jack), and a female horse (mare). Because the mule often demonstrates the best traits from each parent, he possesses what we call hybrid vigor. The mule inherits from the donkey his incredible strength, intelligence, patience,perseverance, endurance and surefootedness from the jack and his equine beauty, athletic ability and speed from the horse."
We like the Mule, it is thought of as intelligent, hard working and able to carry a heavy load. To raise awareness to challenges and improve things often requires the strength to carry a burden. We believe the mule embodies these principles. They aren't donkeys and they aren't horses, they are the best of both.
The history of the mule in the United States is actually quite connected to General Washington (of crossing fame). The American Mule Museum states the following:
"Washington wished to breed the very best mules, but he faced a major obstacle - - the Spanish government at that time prohibited the acquisition or exportation of the famous Andalusian donkey. Washington wrote to King Charles of Spain requesting permission to purchase good quality breeding stock. In October of 1785, a ship docked in Boston harbor carrying a gift from King Charles for George Washington - - two fine jennies and a 4-year old Spanish jack named, appropriately, “Royal Gift’. That "royal gift" from the Spanish king is today credited with the development of the American mule which began a dynasty that “reshaped the very landscape of the country”."
We're not the first to decorate an animal to pay homage to the animals' character and contribution to a society, or a country, we're not even the first to decorate the mule. Fifteen years ago, the "Miles of Mules" initiative in Bucks County, and the 2011 "50 Mule Team Public Art Project" in Walker County Alabama styled the mule. The Indian culture has a long history of decorating elephants and communities have a long history of engaging artists in the decorating of their locally iconic animals and wildlife to call attention to important causes (Oxen, goats, horses, sheep, dogs, turtles, etc.).
This act of publicly displaying these artistically decorated statutes has often been driven by the very important cause of raising awareness of, and support for, the arts. Typically the money raised auctioning these works of art are used to raise public awareness of critical societal needs or to pay to tribute to the history of the hosting towns and cities.
Painted Mule, inc. wants to continue in this tradition and will work to further raise awareness of the influence and power of the arts to shape our society and world for the better. Our goal is to use the power of an artistically inspired brand to create a movement and carry these efforts to new levels, all the while maintaining the tradition of finding a variety of ways to give back to our communities. So, we will be giving a percentage of profits from all sales of each product to a charity, organization or cause that we believe makes our world a better place. We'll create some themes to start the ball rolling. We'll also work to engage artists to help us "paint the mule", and we'll carefully consider and review their work. If we select their work, we'll support them, showcase them on our blog, bring their portfolio of work to our customers, and contribute a percentage of proceeds from their designs to the organization or cause of their choice. We believe we can create a sustainable and ongoing way to generate resources to promote awareness, invest and share back to drive progress and change through the power of the arts. We hope you'll join us.
Have "hybrid vigor". Bring your incredible strength, intelligence, patience, perseverance, endurance and sure-footedness along with your beauty, athletic ability and speed to the mission. Join us. We have work to do!, and together we can get it done.