Bear Here Now

Photo by Rimas Zailskas

By July, Hendersonville’s fiberglass bear statues are deep into their six-month tenure on Main Street, reflecting the sun, fulfilling their duties as the collective city mascot, standing obligingly still for photographs, and biding their time till they’re auctioned off for the benefit of charitable organizations in the fall.

Kara Ashley-Gilmore, who offers holistic counseling services through her business Mountain Creative Arts, has been creating bears for several years. Last year, her “Traveling Bear” was moved around to different locations in the 7th Avenue district, raising funds for The Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County.

Ashley-Gilmore says her offering this year, “Bear of Life,” was inspired by the symbolism of the Tree of Life — “the balance and harmony in nature,” she explains. She incorporated acrylic paint, collage, and inks into the sculpture, layering the various media to allow the background symbols and images (including mammals, birds, and insects in different stages of development) to show through. A local creature in every sense, “Bear of Life” celebrates “the beauty of the flora and fauna found in the valleys of Henderson County,” says the artist.

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