It’s bear hunting season now through October 18 in downtown Hendersonville. The 17th Annual Bearfootin’ Public Art Walk includes 20 life-size ursine figures transformed into one-of-a-kind works of art by local artists and placed along Main Street. Maps illustrating the bears’ locations are available at the Hendersonville Visitor Center.
“It’s so inspiring to see what other artists come up with each year,” says participating artist Lauren Younis. “I love that we are given total freedom of expression to showcase our own personal style while contributing to something cohesive for the community to enjoy.”
On October 19, each bear will be auctioned to benefit the nonprofit of its sponsor’s choice. In 2018, proceeds from the bears totalled $47,200, more than double the amount raised just five years earlier. Due to the steady increase in funds received, the Bearfootin’ program is now able to give a larger portion to nonprofits.
“Over the past five years we have focused on improving the quality of the bears and our efforts have paid off,” says Hendersonville promotions and events coordinator Dalleen Jackson.
The figures are divided into three poses and designed to withstand both weather and hands-on attention from admirers. For this reason, artists must use paint as their only medium. Decorative styles range from whimsical and brightly patterned to serene and reflective.
“The bears’ uniqueness is a big draw,” says Jackson. “The need to create something that will tolerate a great deal of hands-on love, and to do so on a three-dimensional object, requires the artists to stretch their talents.”