In the summer of 1999, Chicago cooked up a tourism ploy that not only worked like a charm, but also inspired countless imitators. Fiberglass cows–300 strong–decorated by local artists were placed around the city. The “Cows on Parade”–inspired by a Swiss project in 1998–began in early June and lasted through Halloween.
“Moose in the City” was a year 2000 project by the City of Toronto in which 326 life-sized moose sculptures were placed throughout the city and decorated by local artists.
“Orcas in the City” was a 2004 British Columbia fund-raising project for the B C Lion’s Society, the first of four such events that I am aware of. Many locals do not share the idea that this ‘art’ represents their city and find some of them downright embarrassing or kitschy and would just as soon not have them displayed throughout the downtown. I, however am one of those people that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and I commend the imagination and artistic ability that is showcased in many of the works of art and the camp in some.
‘Bears in the City’, was a British Columbia charity fund-raising initiative in 2006 where life size (approx. 7ft) custom formed fiberglass Spirit Bears were distributed across BC to local artists who created a unique design and applied it to the surface in the medium of their choosing. The Bear became the artist’s canvas. Once the work was completed the Spirit Bear was displayed in prominent public spaces around the participating cities.
The bear was actually the rare “Spirit Bear” or “Kermode Bear”. A First Nation legend states that the Raven, their creator, made these bears white as a reminder of the time when the world was pure and clean and covered with snowdrifts and ice blue glaciers. Raven promised that these bears would live in peace and harmony forever.
The exhibit ended with the great ‘Spirit Bear Auction’, a gala event where the Spirit Bears were put on the block and auctioned to the highest bidder. Spirit Bear auction proceeds benefited the BC Lions Society’s Easter Seal Operations and the Vancouver Canucks for Kids Fund.
‘Nazzy Bear’ was named in honour of Marcus Naslund – the captain of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. The artist was Dean Lauze who painted it for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment. More of a promotional piece than ‘art’ could be argued here but definitely a more light-hearted version of spirit. Besides, how do we know that kermodes don’t appreciate hockey!
The ‘Kody’ bear was designed by my brother-in-law Gene Sebelius who did all the mosaic work and his good friend and artist, Bonnie Spencer who did all the painting.
Note: The Eagles can be found on this website with an explanation of the project and photos of the work. Keep in mind however that this was from 2010 and I could not find any contact info on this site so the eagles they say were not purchased at that time may indeed have sold by now. www.eaglesinthecity.com
The front and back photos on right were by the renowned artist Jerry Whitehead
Below is a link to a newsletter regarding the Terra Cotta Warriors initiative of 2012
Presently in Bonn, Germany you can find these and other representations of their beloved Ludwig van Beethoven who was born in this city.
If you know of other artistic displays of fiberglass statues that are auctioned off to raise funds for worthwhile charities, I would love to hear about them and see some of your photos! Thanks for visiting and have a tremendous day!