Arts Communities

Bears with Flair Sighted in Hendersonville

Botanical Bear. Beth Winstead Vachon, artist. Photo by Todd Bush

The hunt is on for Hendersonville’s beloved bears as the 20th Annual Bearfootin’ Art Walk gets under way. From now through October 15 locals and visitors can search for 20 bears painted by area artists and located throughout downtown Hendersonville.

“I think over time the bears have become a staple of our community, something people are excited about and look forward to, and something that they feel is special about Hendersonville,” says City of Hendersonville downtown events coordinator Meredith Friedheim. “The participating artists just keep on outdoing themselves year after year.”

Each fall the bears are auctioned to raise funds to benefit both the nonprofit of their sponsor’s choice and Downtown Hendersonville. Winning bids up to $3,000 are split evenly between the downtown program and the nonprofit, while bid amounts exceeding $3,000 are directed entirely to the nonprofit. Some local charities that have benefitted include United Way, Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue, True Ridge and Bullington Gardens. Last year’s record-setting auction raised $100,000 for the nonprofits. This year’s auction is scheduled for October 15, with virtual bidding opening in September.

Photo by Tim Robison

“As an artist, I think having a public art installation like Bearfootin’ is a fantastic collaboration,” says painter Carol Clay, who is participating for the third time this year. “Of course, the fact that the event benefits so many deserving organizations makes it extra special.”

Clay’s bear, titled There’s No Place Like Home and sponsored by construction company Brasfield & Gorrie, benefits Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue. The bear features a fanciful depiction of a community nestled among rolling hills beneath a sky filled with hot air balloons carrying dogs and cats to their new forever homes.

“I have been a volunteer with Charlie’s Angels for more than ten years and I’m also the proud mom of two rescue dogs,” says Clay. “There is an enormous need in our community to help these animals find forever homes.”

Artist Bethany Joy’s bear, titled Daisy Dogwood and sponsored by Dogwood home, garden and gift shop, features a vibrant, whimsical design including flowers, bees, butterflies and other elements inspired by the local landscape. Joy’s bear will benefit Hendersonville’s St. Gerard House, an organization for people with autism and their families.

“My motto as an artist is ‘joyful art for joy-filled lives’ and I hope that when people see Daisy Dogwood they can sense that joy,” she says.

Maps illustrating the bears’ locations are available at the Hendersonville Visitor Center. The 2022 Bearfootin’ Art Walk is sponsored by Optimum.

Learn more at DowntownHendersonville.org or by contacting Downtown Events Coordinator Meredith Friedheim at 828.233.3205 or MFriedheim@hvlnc.gov.

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