In many native cultures, the bear is among the most sacred of animals. Not only are bear strong and powerful, but they are gentle mothers and thoughtful souls.
The Great Bear is not only sacred to Native Americans, but to all of mankind. That respect is represented in the naming of the constellation Ursa Major – the Great Bear.
To read more about what inspired me to focus on the bear for this piece (hint, it includes a very famous grizzly bear advocate and old friend) read on…
The claw in the center of my painting is replicated from a cast of a grizzly paw that hangs on my wall. The original imprint was taken by Chuck Jonkel, one of the most pre-eminent bear biologists in the US and an old friend and ally from our years in the Montana Rockies.
Chuck made and signed this imprint for me a couple of years ago while we were back in Missoula visiting. It was Earth Day and the Great Bear Foundation that Chuck co-founded was making plaster animal casts in sand for the kids.
I waited all day for the crowd to die down before approaching Chuck’s table. I smiled sweetly at him and said “Chuck, you know I’m just a big kid – can I have a grizzly paw, too?” He laughed. And when the cast was ready, he turned it over and signed it for me. Somehow, I managed to keep this extremely fragile artifact safe through many moves and travels and it now graces my forever home.
So, thanks again, Chuck! I had wanted one of your casts for 25 years and each time I look at it, I am brought back to the wilds of Montana where the Grizzly still roams free because of your life’s work. This painting is dedicated to you and all those working to protect wild bears and their habitats.
I started this painting with the grizzly paw cast that Chuck made for me, but it was the Sky Bear that took me by the hand and into the deep realms of sky and space and beyond. Sky Bear represents the dream world of sacred beings and the life force of the planet as perceived from our earth-bound perspective.
“Sky Bear “- original acrylic painting on cow skull. SOLD!