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Kenwoodians weigh in on 15-ton bear

Kenwoodians weigh in on 15-ton bear
Photo by Paul GoguenA 15 ton bear sculpture by Bryan Tedrick was recently installed at St. Anne’s Crossing in Kenwood.

By Bridget Paul

“There’s a bear over there!” many passersby will remark as they travel the Sonoma Highway in Kenwood. When I saw the new art piece while passing by, I wondered what my fellow Kenwoodians might think of the fullmetal giant at St. Anne’s Crossing Winery.

I asked about 30 people in the ’Wood — adults, kids, new arrivals, “been here forevers” — and found that my task not only made me cry with laughter, but brought many community members together in discussion. Now, bear in mind that with everything new, when we know more, we might change our minds, and as I write this column, the Bryan Tedrick masterpiece is barely finished.

I have to say, most people polled did not like it. Perhaps the previous couple of years, and all they have put us through, created this theme of reactions, such as: “Apparently, it is Burning Man-inspired.” (Regina); “It might be to scare away COVID- 19.” (Brandon); “Happy New Year aggressive bear!” (Elaine).

There were some who thought of the future of the village, the well-being of others, and what should, or should not, be reflected in our small community: “Disneyland has come to Kenwood. Is a Ferris wheel next?” (Julie); “It might cause accidents, but slowing down might be a good thing.” (Gina); “Why are we bagging on the bear? Bears are cool.” (Kev); “It is an eyesore and it doesn’t belong in the community at all.” (Lisa and Taylor); “Well, if I had to choose between the banners and flags sticking out of PVC waving 20 feet in the air in front of shops, or the bear … I choose this eyesore north of town.” (Len).

Then there were those who were more sensitive, who reacted to the artwork on an emotional level: “Well, my head isn’t screwed on right, so I guess I should love the bear.” (CJ); “Does the head move in the wind? If the head moves in the wind, that will creep me out more than just the wind.” (many); “Dinosaurs at Swede’s or the bear?” (Rose).

For less grizzly opinions, I found that Dillon (age 2) “loves it!” He went with his mom, Molly, to watch the phases of construction, and was amazed and enjoyed watching first the feet installed, then the body, and finally, the giant head. “It was a big hit with the 2-year-old market.”

Most important, and most crucial to anyone reading this, including artists, I must add that my request for thoughts was sent out with the phrase, “ Send just me a text or email.” Roughly 26 communal messages later, and a tissue to clear my laughing-teacher eyes, I found that few followed directions. I also realized that the bear, with one swing of its recycled claw, had brought many people together. People who haven’t seen each other at the 4th of July parade or race, or at Halloween events, for years, had the time and occasion to banter.

So, with no authority other than that which I give myself, I will name him Banter the Bear. I like it.