Introducing the latest addition to Bear Fever; bear painted by Kutztown University student

Benjamin Hoffman, artist and Studio B intern, with the new Bear Fever bear.
Submitted photos From left to right is Erica Mutter, Branch Manager; Ashley Simes, Teller; and Todd Rothenberger, Senior VP/Chief Marketing Officer

On Tuesday, April 22, the Grand opening of Diamond Credit Union’s Boyertown Branch held a VIP Reception and Ribbon Cutting and added a brand-new Bear Fever bear as part of the welcoming committee.

The latest sitting bear in the public art project’s collection is #67 and was painted by Benjamin Hoffman, student intern with Studio B Fine Art Gallery and a senior at Kutztown University, pursuing a B.S. in Art Education, B.F.A, in Fine Arts, and minors in Art History and Music.

“Ben is an incredibly talented, energetic, and mature young man whose signature art style features geometric shapes and is very detailed and precise. I figured that diamond shapes would be a natural for him to fashion into the bear’s appearance,” noted Jane Stahl of the Bear Fever program. Bold colors and diamond shapes highlight Hoffman’s creation. “I especially like his cufflinks and the tread on his sneakers,” added Stahl.

Hoffman has served as Studio B’s intern since December 2013 after hearing about the studio’s need and varied opportunities to expand his field experience in the arts. Stahl invited him to sit in on the initial meeting with Diamond Credit Union’s representatives to discuss the organization’s vision for their bear.

Hoffman volunteered to design and paint and bear; and, within a few hours of the initial meeting, offered a design concept for the organization’s approval. ‘Gem,’ as Hoffman calls ‘his’ bear, presented assorted challenges to Hoffman throughout the project—offering Hoffman some real-world experience in creating work on commission.

Bear Fever began in 2003, with a vision the Stahls shared to mount life-sized bear sculptures, honoring the community’s mascot, around the Boyertown area. The Stahls were inspired by the donkeys and elephants in Washnington, D.C.’s project Parade Animals and the original Cow Parade staged in Chicago in 2000.

Bear Fever secured original funding from a grant awarded to the Boyertown Area School District to support projects in which the students and community worked together.

By May 2005, over 30 Bear Fever bear sculptures debuted at the high school’s annual Arts Expo. Bears were sponsored by local businesses, organizations, and individuals and created by professional artists, volunteers, and students in grades kindergarten through college.