In October, 2021 I responded to a call to artists seeking work for a joint public art project between Teton County and Jackson Hole Public art that would showcase an original work by a local artist to cover an otherwise nondescript fence in a highly trafficked zone. I submitted this painting of a grizzly bear sow.
While I was waiting to hear back from the selection committee, something remarkable happened in the town of Jackson, WY. On November 9, 2021 (which also happens to be my birthday!), the world-famous mama bear, 399 and her four cubs were seen walking through town. In fact, security cameras captured the five bruins traveling past this exact fence that was planned to host the artwork!
To me, finding grizzly bears inside city limits is simply a reminder that we live in their home! Because we’ve built houses and municipalities in wildlife corridors, we have a special responsibility of preventing conflicts with wildlife.
It is presumed that 399 and her cubs were seeking out unsecured food sources such as garbage cans, bird feeders, pet food, or even leftover pumpkins from Halloween before settling into hibernation. If the bears did find food such as these, this would jeopardizes their safety since human conflicts are the leading cause of bear mortality.
In December 2021, I was deeply honored to learn that my painting was selected from a large group of submissions to be enlarged as a banner for the fence. They were looking for a universal image that would evoke a sense of play, whimsy, color, and visual interest. What was originally a 3 foot wide painting of Blondie (another well-known female grizzly bear often seen in Grand Teton National Park), is now over twelve-feet long.
It is my hope that this image will spark joy and curiosity as well as inspiration to live responsibly in bear country. Here’s how you can help:
My work is drawn from my love and appreciation for this magnificent place I’ve always called home. It is my hope that this image will serve as a reminder that we share this valley with the other wildlife creatures that also call it home.