Have You Seen the 41st Bear?

Posted August 14th, 2012

41st Bear by Kathy LaCroixThe question on everyone’s lips will soon be, “Have you seen the 41st Bear?” This bear without an artist’s design has already started making appearances at Bear Fest events and businesses throughout the city.

The 2009 Bear Fest while proving to be a huge success was slightly tainted by a number of bear thefts. While some of the stolen bears were sadly never recovered, perhaps the most unfortunate incident was of the sculpture that did resurface. Bearly There, aka Chrome Bear by artist Michael MacTavish, stolen from his post within 24 hours of installation, was recovered months later in a state that many thought was damaged beyond repair.

Enter man about town and 2009 and 2012 Bear Fest artist and volunteer, Gary LaCroix. LaCroix heroically took on the task of mending the vandalized bear back to its original blank state. LaCroix is no stranger to bear repairs. Gary says, “My first bear, Mountain Park Bear, lost his arm in an accident during the 2009 Bear Fest, so I had experience repairing him. It has given me a sense of satisfaction to restore The 41st Bear, aka White Bear, to take part in celebrating 2012 Bear Fest.” Since then Gary has been the foremost bear repair expert on the maintenance committee.

Following its completion, the bare bear has taken on numerous pet names amongst Bear Fest volunteers from “Naked Bear” to “Buster” to “Tabula Rasa”. At the Bear Fest Auction on September 20th at the Log Cabin, the highest bidder will be able to give the bear a permanent name as well as a unique design. “This is an unexpected occurrence for the 2012 Bear Fest. There have been numerous artists and businesses ask if they could create their own design on a bear after the 2012 Bear Fest submissions had already been juried and selected. Here is their opportunity to transform the unknown bear. However, they must be the winning bidder at the auction.” says Burns Maxey, ECA+ Coordinator.

Tickets to the Bear Fest auction can be purchased  online and the ECA+ Gallery at 43 Main Street, Easthampton, MA, 01027.

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