Penticton was home to the largest grizzly bear sculpture in North America, but now it’s been driven to a secret location in northern B.C. before it’s revealed to a city as a surprise.
Gerry Houghton, the artist, was commissioned by someone who lives in the city. He would not reveal the name of a client who has asked to stay anonymous until the sculpture is unveiled in spring.
“The size alone is kind of breathtaking,” said Houghton.
“I’m not looking for a Guinness World Record or anything, but this needs to be seen from 200 feet away, so it has to be big.”
From the tip of the sow’s nose to her tail, she is 20 feet long; from her feet to the cubs that will be attached to her back, she will tower 17 feet tall.
Creating something that monumental for a town was no easy feat for Houghton.
“It’s a life form so it has to be fairly accurate, so that’s been a bit of a challenge,” he said.
“What you do is you make a maquette, and you sculpt that, then the client examines that and he is obviously very familiar with grizzly bears. You transfer the size as any measurement I take with the callipers on the model I transfer that and times that by one point two and that gives me the dimensions to do there,” Houghton explained.
“And it’s just a matter of back and forth and it’s a lengthy process, but if you stay true to the form everything works out.”
Made up of aluminum, cardboard, polyurethane foam and mortar, the sculpture piqued the curiosity of looky-loos in Penticton.
“When I was having this construction going on, the kids over here in kindergarten had a contest to see what it was and some said a dinosaur and a polar bear,” said Houghton.
“So it’s been fun that way — a lot of interest in the community.”
The next stop for the bear: the top-secret Northern B.C. town where her two cubs will be attached and she will go into hibernation until her unveiling in spring.