Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Going on a Bear Hunt

Art in Public Places

These whimsical fiberglass bears can be found all over New Bern, North Carolina.  It was the brainstorm of the folks at Bear Town Bears, a non-profit organization, to showcase the talent of local artists, as well as celebrate the city's 300th anniversary in 2010.  Local businesses sponsored the bears and then proudly placed them outside their bank, store, restaurant, government building, you name it.  They are everywhere!
 The black bear has long been a symbol of New Bern.  In 1994, the city bought several  bear sculptures from woodcarver Tom Penney.  Unfortunately, termites completely destroyed them and Penney was called upon to carve a new set.  This time, he used cypress and treated them to prevent termite damage.  So far so good.  These bears have been termite-free since 2000.
The two copper bears on New Bern's City Hall were purchased in 1914, and are named King William II and Crown Prince Albert.  The bear, seen on flags and signs all over town, honors its Swiss roots.  For someone like me who equates bears with the Sierras and the Rockies, it surprised me to learn these beautiful creatures roam the forests of North Carolina.  I never got the chance to see the real McCoy, but I certainly got my fill of artistic ones!

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