Celebrate Summer with a Teddy Bear Picnic

Posted July 30th, 2012

Teddy Bear PicnicJoin Easthampton City Arts+ and the Easthampton Bear Fest in a celebration of Buy Local, Eat Local at the Art Walk Easthampton Teddy Bear Picnic—a summertime community picnic around Nashawannuck Pond on August 11, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

All are invited to attend the Teddy Bear Picnic around the Nashawannuck Pond. Bring your family, friends, and neighbors, and share a seat on a large gingham picnic blanket that will be provided by Bear Fest. The cupcake truck, SugarBakers Cake Truck, will be stationed nearby to provide sweet treats. Children are encouraged to bring their favorite Teddy bear to share in the festivities and the band Shiprock and Anchordog Acoustic Greatness will be performing live for picnic goers. Pack a picnic basket and join the community fun!

Prior to the picnic, patrons can register to win one of 6 available prize picnic baskets at Big E’s Supermarket. Baskets are stuffed with goodies generously donated by participating businesses including: a $25 Big E’s Supermarket gift card, Pink Bear, a new children’s picture book written by Betsy Knode Newton and illustrated by Lucy Mueller Young, picnic fixings, Bear Fest Gummy Bears from Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream, a Teddy bear, a photo of Hay Bear and Harvest Bear, and more. Registration will begin on August 2 and the winners will be announced Friday, August 10th, so they can pick up their basket and bring it to the Teddy Bear Picnic on Saturday, August 11th.

In conjunction with the Teddy Bear Picnic and Art Walk Easthampton, Lucy Mueller Young, illustrator of the book Pink Bear, will be reading at White Square Books at 6:00 p.m. Pink Bear is one of the many wonderful gifts included in the prize picnic baskets. Teddy Bear Picnic conveniently concludes as the Art Walk Easthampton commences. Picnic attendees are invited to celebrate and explore the city’s participating galleries, studios, and local businesses that will be hosting guests from 5:00-8:00 p.m. While touring the city during Art Walk, guests will also have the opportunity to view all 40 bears and can pick up Bear Fest maps at participating locations.

Extreme weather forecast reminds us to Respect Your Mother

Posted July 26th, 2012

Respect Your MotherWith a severe thunderstorm and tornado warning spread across the whole Northeast region of the United States, one is quickly reminded of the intense power of Mother Nature. Luckily, Easthampton has a its very own bear dedicated to keeping its residents alert to these kinds of natural phenomenon.  Jennifer Dorgan’s bear, Respect Your Mother, is a manifestation of the power and beauty of the Earth and serves as a reminder to not take the Earth and its elements for granted.

Read more about Jennifer Dorgan’s inspiration and process in the Q & A below.

Name?

Jennifer Dorgan

What town/city do you live in?

Westfield

Where is your studio? What is your usual artistic focus/genre, when you aren’t working on a bear?

My teaching studio, Piece of My Art, is in downtown Westfield at 24 Elm St. My private studio is on Crown St. in Westfield. I try to do a fiberglass sculpture every year, and this 2012 bear is my fourth sculpture. In addition to teaching 7 year olds to adult painting/drawing classes, I work on commissions of portraits and landscape paintings.

What was the process you used on the bear?

I am always reminding my students to recycle. I watch many of them mindlessly throwing away bottles and cans, without a second thought. Something didn’t get through to many about being responsible for the Earth and the way we treat it. “Respect Your Mother” was born out of my distress with human denial about pollution, and my appreciation for Earth’s majestic beauty.

What materials did you use and why did you choose them?

I chose to keep my design strictly painted. Whenever possible, I like to work with the surface of a painting prospect as is, and not accommodate the shape to the paint, but rather the paint to the shape. I find it challenging to work with the design to create a good flow with the shape of the piece.

What is the theme for your bear and what was the inspiration?

“Respect Your Mother” speaks for itself as to the theme. It’s about the gift of Mother Nature we all share and the need for us to be mindful of how we choose to impact her. The bear lends a powerful figure to encompass Mother Nature’s borders.

What have you loved about the project?

The design of the bear was marvelous to work with! I loved the flow! I also loved involving my students in discussions about working hard practicing their art so that they could contribute their skills and art to good causes. The bear project inspired a lot of kids and grown-ups who attend my studio.

In what ways do you hope your bear will move the folks who view it?

First and foremost, I just want people to have something pretty to look at. If I’m lucky enough to have viewers think about nature and being careful with it, then it’s a win/win!

What else would you like to say about your project or the Bear Fest as a whole?

This is my 4th outdoor sculpture project for a municipality, and I have to commend Easthampton for their completely inspiring, outreaching, organized, and well-planned ways of conducting their projects. Easthampton City Arts+ does things right! I want to extend my appreciation to them for a job that continues to be well done! Thanks for this opportunity!!!!!

Fun & Games Bear is ready to play!

Posted July 17th, 2012

Fun & Games BearWhen asked to describe the theme of her bear, artist Kim Parkhurst said, “Fun & Games Bear is made of the stuff of childhood play.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  From a distance this bear is a brilliant rainbow of color, but as you approach you notice that it is covered head to paw with hundreds of toys and trinkets!!  What fun!  You can find this playful bear in front of the Union Mart at 123 Cottage St.

Read more about the artist’s process and inspiration for Fun & Games Bear in the Q & A below.

Name?

Kim Parkhurst

What town/city do you live in?

Winchendon, MA

Where is your studio?  What is your usual artistic focus/genre, when you aren’t working on a bear?

My studio used to be an upstairs kitchen.  It looks out onto apple trees and a duck pond.  Calloway the parrot is my studio supervisor, and in spring and summer I often have incubators full of eggs in here too.

My work ranges from traditional painting to sculpture and fiber art.   Animals are a common theme in my work.  I try to work vibrant and rich, with lots of detail to reward a lingering viewer.

What was the process you used on the bear?

I put out the call in my community for toy box flotsam and jetsam – orphaned game pieces, Barbie shoes, Lego pieces, toy cars, gumball machine charms, and so on.   A lot of my friends are parents, and were kind enough to indulge me as they embarked on their spring cleaning.  I also haunted thrift stores and yard sales to round out the assortment.   I sorted the toys by size and color, and affixed them to the bear with weatherproof silicone.

The bear’s sculptural components were by necessity found objects, mostly donated.  They had to be small, to become part of the composite surface.   I wanted to make the bear a big, substantial entity out of thousands of tiny, forgettable trinkets.

What is the theme for your bear and what was the inspiration?

Fun & Games Bear is made of the stuff of childhood play.

What have you loved about the project?

Playing with toys is just as much fun as it used to be.

In what ways do you hope your bear will move the folks who view it?

I hope they’ll be struck at first by how colorful it is to view from a distance.  I hope they draw closer to inspect the individual elements, and spend time recognizing old favorite game and toy bits.  I hope it sparks happy recollections.

What else would you like to say about your project or the Bear Fest as a whole?

I love Bear Fest! Our region has so many incredible artists.  Bear Fest is a fantastic event and I love seeing the ingenuity of the artists, and the enthusiasm of the community!

Shakesbear in the Park

Posted July 12th, 2012

ShakesbearShakesbear in the Park may not be quite as big of a production as the world renowned Shakespeare in the Park, but he sure is cute!  Created as an ode to the Bard himself, this little Romeo is meant to inspire viewers to go forth and create art or better put by the man himself, to “breathe life into a stone.” Stationed in a lovely little garden right next to the Easthampton Senior Center on Union St., Shakesbear invites you to sit on the bench beside him and dream up a masterpiece.

Jill Lewis, the artist behind Shakesbear, tells us about her process and inspiration in the Q & A below.

Name?

Jill Lewis

What town/city do you live in?

Easthampton

Where is your studio? What is your usual artistic focus/genre, when you aren’t working on a bear?

My Studio is located in the Riverside Industries Building, at One Cottage Street, on the 5th floor.

I am a photographer, digital and film.  Yes! I still love film.   I also create mixed media pieces, and greeting cards from recycled materials.

What was the process you used on the bear?

My process was very simple in the beginning, deciding what colors to be used, and then painting his body and clothes.  Then I began to create his cloak.  Initially, I began with a wire armature and plaster, which became far too heavy…needing me to sand it down and move on to a lighter material, which happened to be a muslin sheet.   It was then coated with many layers of sealant, paint, and varnish to keep him safe from the elements.

What materials did you use and why did you choose them?

I used traditional outdoor house paint.  The color selection is endless!  As mentioned, I used wire mesh to sculpt the cloak…it allowed me to be more creative in its fabrication, it allowed a more fluid appearance.  I also used the white filter from a traditional auto filter, covered with lace, and many, many coats of sealant!  And last but not least, a turkey feather.

What is the theme for your bear and what was the inspiration?

My bear is “Shakesbear.”  It is bad karma to not tell the whole story so hear is his “history.”  My landlord (thanks John) had the idea, and we were to make him together if selected, however he took a job in Montana.   Needless to say the renderings and final result were left to my own vision.  He is pretty cute though.

What have you loved about the project?

As odd as this may seem, I really enjoyed the fabrication of his cloak.   I also enjoyed the initial planning stage, which did not work, the “critical thinking,” as to how to rework it, and ending up with a satisfactory result.   It was refreshing and satisfying to use my artistic skills in that manner.

In what ways do you hope your bear will move the folks who view it?

Primarily, it is my wish the viewers will be inspired to create art of their own.  With the decreasing art classes in schools, it is our responsibility to encourage those with art interests.  Secondary, I am hoping the younger generations will be curious enough to ask who “Shakesbear,” (Shakespeare) is/ was,  learn more about him, and hopefully read some of his works.

What else would you like to say about your project or the Bear Fest as a whole?

As one of the selected artists for the first Bear Fest, I was delighted to be chosen again.  The city of Easthampton will be humming with visitors as before, a welcome site, and an opportunity to tell folks about our multifaceted city that has much to offer in the way of artists, musicians, and writers and performers as well.  The ECA+, the many volunteers, and Burns Maxey have risen to the occasion with what appears to become another terrific event for the City of Easthampton.  Thank you all!

Bear Puppets & Stories for July Art Walk!

Posted July 6th, 2012

Easthampton City Arts+ and the Easthampton Bear Fest invites you to an original storybook reading and a puppet show on July 14th at the Easthampton Congregational Church. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. during Art Walk Easthampton.

Members of ECA+ bring you a bear friendly puppet show about Goldilocks—a girl who runs an errand for her mother and her inquisitive nature gets the best of her when she finds a little house in the clearing. See this celebrated tale animated with plush puppets.

Following the puppet show, artist Kevin Maloney will read from a life-size storybook about the bear Zenya, also known as Artist Bear. Zenya the bear sculpture is the creation of Bear Fest artist Juli Kirk and is on view at Eastworks through the duration of Bear Fest. Maloney, followed Kirk’s bear on journeys after the Kirk completed the bear. He will read from his colorful life-size book that includes Zenya’s excursions documented with photographs.