I made this large metal and wood wall sculpture of a fishing bear standing over a rushing mountain stream with the sun shining from behind in 1994 for a couple with a house in Blowing Rock, NC.
This was in the time before I had a computer. Aside from any real-life experience with animals, my only reference was photos in books.
I was inspired by a particular photo of a fishing black bear straddling a stream on two large boulders.
I installed the metal and wood wall sculpture over the stone mantle above their mountain-stone fireplace.
The house was sided with wormy chestnut bark shingles like so many others in the area — reminders of the chestnut trees that were once prolific in the North Carolina mountains before the blight.
The owners had a pile of leftover shingles in the shed, and I incorporated them into the bear’s texture.
This is a perfect example of what I love so much about commission work. Integrating your vision and dreams with my experience and artistic sensibility to realize something neither of us might have imagined on our own.
Years later, when I followed up with the owner, I learned the fishing bear wall sculpture had two new homes in the 20 plus years that had passed. In the first, after downsizing, it stood on the floor behind the couch as there was no tall chimney wall.
In its current home, you can see it has found a new chimney wall.
Maple, heat colored steel, and wormy chestnut bark. 8′ H x 6′ W
(My wife Ranja also used some of the chestnut bark to roof a three-story dollhouse she was making from a hollowed apple tree.)
You can read more about how I got started making heat colored steel engravings and wood and metal wall art here.
And if you are curious about learning the art, I’m putting together an online course to teach heat colored steel engraving.