BOYERTOWN — Featuring the efforts and art work of Boyertown Area School District’s students, staff, and volunteer parents, sets eight and nine of Bear Fever coasters are now available at Dancing Tree Creations Artisans Gallery & Studio, 220 S. Reading Ave., Boyertown, and at Studio B Fine Art Gallery, 39A E. Philadelphia Ave., Boyertown.
Also available are sets 2-7; set 1 is sold out and not currently available.
Set #8 features images of Bear Fever bears from 4 of the Boyertown Area School District’s schools: “J.T,” sponsored by Boyertown Junior High East Center; “Douglass Fur,” sponsored by Pine Forge Elementary School; “Freddy Hanover,” sponsored by New Hanover Upper Frederick Elementary School PTO; and “Earl,” sponsored by Earl Elementary School.
Set #9 showcases 4 additional bears that were painted by students. “Happ,” sponsored by Berks County Community Foundation; “Sparky,” sponsored by Sugg Chevrolet; “Artie,” sponsored by TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce; and “Al BASH-ful,” sponsored by Boyertown Area Senior High School’s Class of 2005.
The Bear Fever coaster collection, a project initiated by Beth and Lyn Camella-Rich, co-owners of Dancing Tree Creations Artisans Gallery & Studio, began as a fundraising opportunity in support of Studio B Fine Art Gallery. Jill Wentzel, of Jill Elizabeth Photography, Jennifer Hetrick, and Tammy Snyder have served as photographers for the coaster project.
Bear Fever, Boyertown’s beloved public art project, features over 70 life-sized fiberglass bear sculptures decorated by local artists and sponsored by local businesses, individuals, and organizations. The project, begun in 2003, debuted 35 bears at Boyertown High School’s annual Arts Expo in May 2005. Since then, the collection has doubled, and residents and visitors to the area continue their love affair with the bear statues.
“I knew folks would like our bears, seeing art on the street, learning more about art and artists, participating in the project, meeting the business people and community members who sponsored the bears; but I had no idea how much they would love the project,” noted Jane Stahl, former BASH teacher and co-founder of the project with her husband Paul, marketing consultant and graphic artist.
“Paul figured the community could support the project of 40-60 bears; even he is surprised at how well-received the project has been in the community after all these years,” she continued. “There seems to be no cure for Bear Fever.” Further information about the project can be found at www.bearfever.org.
Details for Set #8
“J.T.” was painted by Steve Fegely, art instructor and students Dillon DeRosato, Kelsey Jacobs, Caitlin Serbin, and Morgan Sweeney and recognizes the importance each of us offers to one another in our work and in creating a successful community.
The bear is painted in a patchwork style; each patch represents a different country or a different aspect of school life. Some examples feature Boyertown Bears sports, fellowship, music, ensemble, theater, academics, and service clubs. The patches representing countries each have the word “together” written in the language of that country. On the bear’s shoulders are two golden rings that are grasped by hands representing a diversity of cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
“Douglass Fur” features images of his home—the Douglass Township countryside and his animal “neighbors”—raccoons, turkeys, skunks, foxes, ducks, pheasants, deer, squirrels. This small country school offers a more intimate and rural setting than some of the other elementary schools in the Boyertown School District. Every child participated in the painting of Douglass Fur. Art teacher Molly Lorenz coordinated the project, worked with the 5thand 6th] grade students, and added the finishing touches.
Each decision regarding“Freddie Hanover”went through a voting process at New Hanover Upper Frederick Elementary School (NHUF). Each child voted on which style of bear they wanted and on which artist would create him. Freddie displays symbols of what NHUF teaches every child: the basic academics—math, English, science, social studies, the arts. But Freddie’s symbols showcase other important offerings of NHUF: caring teachers, friends, and community members.
While Freddie is dressed to represent the carefree child with his shoes are untied, his backpack is full of his most valued tools--notebook paper, crayons, paints, DARE fliers and No Place for Hate messages and decorated by symbols of his future—symbolizing his eagerness to learn. But what counts most, noted his artist Diana McKee, comes from within. His main message is that we are all a part of the big picture: NHUF doesn't just teach what is on the outside; they teach from the heart. To illustrate that aspect, every child—young and old—parent and teachers too—had an opportunity to place his or her own paper heart in the bear capturing a dream or special thought each person holds in his heart.
“Earl”: The students at Earl Elementary School throughout the school years 2008-2010 were determined to have their own Bear Fever bear and were challenged to raise over $3,500 to fund the project.
To do so, students, staff, and their families decided to collect pennies. Several students stepped up to coordinate the effort, and pennies came from everywhere. The students were assisted by veteran teacher Joe Vendetti. This extraordinary effort demonstrates uncommon dedication and was applauded in an all-school assembly in May 2010, when Earl was debuted. Students who had “graduated” from Earl were invited back for the ceremony and applauded for their tenacity and leadership.
The Earl Elementary School is located in rural Berks County on Route 73 approximately five miles west of Boyertown. “Earl” represents the rural aspect of this elementary school and features a hiker “uniform,” complete with a plaid flannel shirt—a little tight around the belly, a walking stick, comfortable hat, backpack and boots made for walking through the Pennsylvania countryside. The added attraction poised on “Earl’s” nose is artist Bob Williams’ favorite detail. The bumblebee was created especially for the project and Bob found himself reluctant to let him leave his studio!
Details for Set #9
Sponsored by Sugg Chevrolet, “Sparky”has an interesting history. He was created by Boyertown High School’s former ceramics\ instructor Linda Austerberry with the help of the girls’ soccer team sponsored by Jackie and Bobby Sugg of Sugg Chevrolet. Linda’s daughters and the Suggs’ daughters play on the same team.
“Sparky” endeavors to represent all sports in some fashion. Dave Burkert and Thomas Dareneau, instructors at Boyertown High School, fashioned and painted the stadium surrounding the bear and his platform. The stadium features “thumb prints” to represent people in the stands. Photographs of each of the girls on the team appear in the stands.
“Artie” features puzzle pieces fashioned in assorted artistic styles and seems a perfect theme for one arm of Bear Fever’s mission: promoting the arts—all kinds, all styles. Because the project focuses on student involvement and because the TriCounty Chamber consistently creates opportunities for career development, the Bear Fever project wanted students to be the artists in charge. The students involved were those who coordinated Boyertown High School’s annual Arts Expo.
Sponsored by Class of 2005, “Al BASH-ful” was designed by Boyertown Area Senior High School science instructor Clint Musser, painted by Jeff Graber of Graber Letterin,’ and features the school’s colors applied to create a celebratory theme and to serve as the mascot for the Class of 2005, the class that welcomed a dozen Bear Fever bears to their graduation ceremony.
"Happ" was the end product of a summer camp program initiated by Studio B and funded by a grant from Berks County Community Foundation. In the summer camp, students 7-17 enjoyed a variety of creative, art-related opportunities designed to teach and enhance art skills; increase self- awareness, self-acceptance, and self-confidence; build resilience and healthful relationships with other members of the community-young and not-so-young; refine communication skills; and promote appreciation for others in an effort to decrease the deleterious effects of discrimination and prejudice that often results in bullying behavior.
Students in the Boyertown Area School District (BASD) and those who participate in Studio B's educational program were asked to identify people in their lives who display heroic qualities in surmounting challenging circumstances or who serve as role models of self-confidence and healthy communication in relationships. Students were then asked to create a visual representation of these "heroes" and "heroic qualities" which inspired Jean Esther, artist and Studio B art instructor, to create a design for the bear portraying the many heroes and role models in students' lives. Studio B's summer camp participants helped to paint the design Jean Esther created which featured a variety of images representing parents and grandparents, police officers and firemen, soldiers, dogs, nurses and doctors, auto mechanics, teachers, pastors and priests, for example.
Details of previously released Coaster Sets #1 - #7
Set #1: The first set of coasters that were available in November 2015, included Gra-bear, the project’s logo bear, designed by Paul Stahl and sponsored and decorated by Jeff Graber of Graber Letterin’; GI Joe, a community-sponsored bear led by BASH student Scarlett Kulp and decorated by Kylene Bertoia-Hart; Box, sponsored by Body Borneman Insurance and fashioned by Doug Davidheiser; and Townie, one of the project’s prototype bears, funded by a grant secured by Boyertown Area School District and decorated by BASH students under the direction of Sandy Wood, former long-time art instructor, and art instructor Debra Burkert.
Set #2: The second set features The Barrister, sponsored by 5 local law offices and decorated by Boyertown Area High School (BASH) art students under the direction of art instructor Thomas Dareneau; Bear-gon, sponsored by Drug Plastics and Glass Co., Inc. and decorated by Gail Fronheiser; Mary Beary, the Distelbear, decorated by Candi Haas-Simmons and sponsored by National Penn Bank; and Spirit, sponsored by a collection of Reading Avenue businesses and decorated by Arline Christ.
Set #3: The third set featured bears that have been installed at private residences: 3 bears that were sponsored by Jody and Loren Hulber of Macungie. Hul-bear celebrates the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary and was painted by Eric Claypoole. Flora became the second bear in the Hulbers’ collection and was painted by Joe Hoover. Flora is covered in flower images. Rod, Duh Hot Rod Bear was painted by renowned pinstripe artist Alan AJ Johnson. Loren is a car enthusiast. Chloe is the 4th in the set, sponsored by Diane Reinwalt and painted by Robert L. Williams. Chloe presents the “schoolmarm” of Reinwalt’s home that once was a schoolhouse.
Set #4: The fourth set of bears included Huggy, sponsored by Rose and the late William Gross was created to decrease the stigma associated with acknowledging mental health issues and to encourage folks who are suffering to get the medical help they need. Another bear named Disco is the work of the artists working magic with glass at Taylor Backes Glass Studio. A third CHIP T was sponsored by Harry’s Tattoo and the Bear Fever project. CHIP T is an acronym for ‘Community Helps in Painting Tattoos.’ Erin Wade was the artist of this spectacular bear, originally planned to feature the artwork of the community. Bearra, the fourth bear in this series, was created by Doug Davidheiser who went to extra special lengths for his sponsor, the late Ken Ellis, the man in charge of Bear (baseball) Stadium and the American Legion baseball effort in Boyertown.
Set #5: The fifth set featured Lincoln Bear, created by artist Daniel Guest and sponsored by Victoria and David Brown, owners of the former Lincoln Elementary School on West Philadelphia Avenue; Bear Odyssey, sponsored by Epps Advertising featuring the unique artwork of Mike Hale. A third bear in the series is Papa Popodickon, sponsored by St. Columbkill’s Roman Catholic Church. The artist for Papa Popodickon is fine artist Joe Szimhart. Monty is the fourth bear in series #5, sponsored by Montgomery County Community College and painted by Chris D’Antonio.
Set #6: Set six features Doc, sponsored by Pottstown Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates and created by Elizabeth Wagner, Boyertown Area School District art teacher and a group of Boyertown Senior High School students; EmBRACEable, sponsored by Leonardo J. Galletto, Orthodontist and painted by artist Christine Burnley; Teddy Bear-secker, sponsored by Drug Plastics and Glass Co., Inc. and decorated by the late Sue Weller; and The Count—the Accountants Shared Bear, sponsored by Reinhart and Company, Larry E. Hoffa and Company, John H. Griesemer, Jr., Denny Urffer of Resnick, Amsterdam and Lesher, Chris and John Schlegel, and Barry L. Weller. Artist Bob McGee designed and painted The Count.
Set #7: Set seven features images of Bear Fever bears from 4 of the Boyertown Area School District’s elementary schools: “Patches” from Boyertown Elementary School, “Gilbert” from Gilbertsville Elementary School (GES), “George” from Washington Elementary School, and “Once Upon a Bear” from Colebrookdale Elementary School.