Mammoth 15-ton grizzly bear is looking at you on Sonoma Highway
By Paul Goguen
Typically news of a bear beside the highway elicits in me a natural reaction to slow down to the speed limit with hands at ten and two. In this case, though, the bear beside the highway is a 28-foot-tall grizzly bear sculpture made of delightfully terra-cotta rusty steel. The installation, by renowned Glen Ellen artist Bryan Tedrick, was completed on Jan. 24 and now rests on its newly poured concrete pedestal in scratchy, bitey perpetuity.
Tedrick specializes in large-scale metal works that are intended to be touched and climbed upon, for a more interactive experience. The bear, which took 1,600 hours to complete over a 30-month period, was conceptualized and commissioned by St. Anne’s Crossing owner Ken Wilson, who wanted to honor Sonoma County’s important place in the history of California. The Bear Flag Revolt of 1846 took place in Sonoma Valley, when a group of rebels won a victory over Mexico’s General Mariano Vallejo and declared California an independent republic. The rebels constructed a makeshift flag with a drawing of a grizzly bear and a star symbolizing the new republic, which lasted just 25 days. The Bear Flag was replaced by the U.S. flag when California became part of the United States. The grizzly bear flag, however, became the basis for the official flag of the state of California in 1911, and the grizzly bear itself has become an enduring symbol of California and the rich history of Sonoma Valley.
Tedrick’s sculptures are meant to work in harmony with their environments and can be seen in many locations around Sonoma County and beyond, including “Victory” at the Geyserville Sculpture Trail, “Valley of the Moon” in Oakmont, “Bucephalus” in Santa Rosa, and more.
“Doing a bear was Ken’s inspiration,” said Tedrick. “My task was to bring it to life. The attitude he asked for was ferocious, and thus the pose.
I incorporated some used steel recycled from local sources such as water pipes from Sobre Vista (the fur), light standards from the city of Sonoma (hands and feet), a conveyor belt chain from the sawmill in Cloverdale (neck area), and beams from the charred remains of Soda Rock Winery (lower leg).”
Fully grown grizzly bears can weigh up to 1,150 pounds, however, this one’s weight is certainly measured in tons (15, to be exact).
This is a very photogenic bear, and visitors to the winery are welcome to shoot at will. St. Anne’s Crossing is located at 8450 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood.