It’s not uncommon to see bears in the Santa Clarita Valley, especially ones that are sculptures decorated with historic art that tells the story of the valley.
“The California Bear project was started in Santa Clarita about 10 years ago, right around the time many other major cities were launching public art campaigns,” said Jessica Jackson, communications specialist for the city of Santa Clarita. “At that time the city of Santa Clarita’s arts advisory committee and the local arts community came together and decided they would like to launch a public art campaign in Santa Clarita.”
The city has supported many public art pieces, many of which can be found here.
“The group determined that a bear would be the best for the community, as legend has it the bear on the California flag, Monarch of the Mountains, was shot in the 1880s in Santa Clarita,” Jackson said. “The bear was also ideal because the goal was to make the project a state-wide effort, like New Mexico did, not just a Santa Clarita campaign.”
There are currently six city of Santa Clarita and California Bear Project supported bears.
“The first bear was commissioned by the city and placed at Heritage Park, thus the name Heritage Bear, and funded by Newhall Land,” Jackson said. “The City also commissioned an AMGEN Tour of California Bear and a Transit Bear.”
The Heritage Bear was installed in April of 2005 by Scott Groller and is located at Heritage Park in Valencia. The AMGEN Tour of California Bear is currently in storage and is brought out every year for the AMGEN Tour of California. This bear was installed in November of 2007 by Frank Rock. The Transit Bear was installed in August of 2007 by Mike Burton at the city of Santa Clarita’s Transit Maintenance Facility.
“Other bears in Santa Clarita include the Canyon Theatre Guild Bear, funded by the theatre, the Climbing Tree Bear, funded by Westfield Valencia Town Center, and the Golden Valley Grizzly Bear, funded by Golden Valley High School,” she said.
The Canyon Theatre Guild Bear was installed in September of 2006 by Frank Rock. It resides in storage in the theatre because officials do not want it vandalized and do not have a place for it to be permanently. The bear is brought out for special productions and events. The Climbing Tree Bear resides at the Westfield Valencia Town Center and was installed by Corey Stein in November of 2009. The Golden Valley Grizzly was installed in October of 2006 by various Golden Valley High students on the school campus.
“The City paid for the original development of the bear concept, and once the design was finalized, the bears were about $8,000 each, which included everything from creation of the bear, to commissioning the artists for original art, to sealing the piece,” she said.
The bears can be found scattered throughout the valley. The city of Santa Clarita has created a list of the bears and their locations on a map. KHTS AM 1220 has added onto the SCV Murals and Sculptures map with a California Bear Project Category in Google Maps.
“The only other bear in California at this time resides in El Monte,” Jackson said. “The El Monte rotary club purchased a bear to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary.”
View Santa Clarita Valley Murals, Sculptures, & California Bear Project in a larger map