Bear Tales: the intersection of art and wildlife

Bear totem on grave. Ketchikan, Alaska. Source: Sir Henry S. Wellcome/Wikimedia

Today’s post was prompted by a bear sighting yesterday. My friend Tamina and I were slogging through the rain and were near the end of our four-mile walk. A new immigrant from Germany, she said she recently read a brochure about how to act if you saw a bear. We walked on. After a fashion, I looked up, then quietly said, “There’s a bear.” She glanced up, saw it, then we both started walking backwards slowly, which signals that we are in retreat. It was a lovely bear! We were on the trail that skirts the waterfront at Shoreline Park in Port Moody. It is a heavily forested area at the end of an ocean inlet, the Burrard Inlet. Many, many bears. I’d say this bear was a young adult or older ‘teenager.’ It was beautiful. Its forepaws were on the trail. We could see half of it, the rest was concealed by brush. I wanted to stay and just look at it, but that wouldn’t have been wise, so we started backing up slowly, slowly. Naturally, I now have bears on my mind. They are lovely creatures. Right now, they’re eating as

A young bear foraging in my back yard

much as they can before they hibernate. I’ve seen quite a few here, and while not unusual, it’s the first time I saw one along the trail in the park. The First Nations consider bear medicine to be special and very strong. An elderly medicine woman I knew, Grandma Mary, had grizzly bear medicine. Very powerful. One time in the 1990s, she took me into her sweat lodge. While inside, I followed her instructions, slathering myself with bear grease, some of which I still have. Bears are a very important member of the natural world

Gary with his polar bear during Open Studio

and when people are Bear Aware, bear and human can co-exist. The problem here is human ignorance and unchecked land development, which is destroying bear habitat at an alarming rate. The Province of British Columbia is not a wise steward. It is sickening. People are so ignorant. They don’t want to share the world with nature. They pretty much want it on their terms solely. As long as people believe they have dominion over nature, nature will suffer. So, bears are on my mind, as a result of my experience yesterday morning. Last evening, I was sitting on the couch thinking of bears. Then I thought of clay and bears. Take a gander at the bottom of the Moonbear Pottery & Indian Arts site. Her bear and salmon vessels are exquisite. Here is the linkto her Bear Wall Shield, on her Etsy site. Seeing it reminds me of a bear’s rolling gait; it’s almost liquid.  One of the best bear sculptures I ever saw is at the arts centre, done by a child. It is a polar bear on its back, head lifted up with a salmon in its four paws. White, white bear and red, red fish.

No hibernation Close-up

Tracks of our 1/1/09 "New Years Bear"

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About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
This entry was posted in Articles and Interviews, Featured Artists, Video/Photos/Slide Show and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Bear Tales: the intersection of art and wildlife

  1. Pingback: Noteable Blogs: Autumn, Death, and Story (10/06/2011) « Dreaming the World

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