"Spirit Bears" go up for Auction
Two years ago, Vancouver and Victoria were overrun with orcas. Part of a fundraising initiative, the BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities raised $400,000 for the BC Lions Society’s Easter Seal Operations and the Canucks for Kids Fund with the sale of the giant pod of fiberglass mammals.
A live auction held on October, 12, 2004 raised $258,250, with the most extraordinary 'Orcasmic Voyage' by Artist Arnt Arntzen selling for the highest bid of $25,000 (http://www.orcasinthecity.com/images/Orcasmic.jpg). An internet auction saw 24 more orcas find a new home.
This past year, we've seen the phenomenon spread to even larger proportions, with "Spirit Bears" or "Kermode Bears" inhabiting a total of eight communities: Vancouver, Surrey, Vancouver Island, Prince George, Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, and Whistler.
Auction results have also seen a boom. A live auction which took place in Vancouver on Tuesday, October 10th, 2006 has already raised some $570,000 in bids alone, excluding any funds raised from the $150 ticketed gala event. Bears went under the hammer for as much as $50,000. ('Jeanie, Whistler Spirit Bear' by Artist: Gloria Masse http://www.spiritbearsinthecity.com/images/105_WhistlerSpiritBear.jpg).
A second live auction took place in Terrace (Prince Rupert / Kitimat vicinity) on October 14, 2006 (though live auction prices have not yet been posted to the website spiritbearsinthecity.com).
Subsequent auctions will take place in Surrey on Thursday, October 19th, 2006, in Prince George on November 4th, 2006, and in Victoria on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006.
Both fundraising projects featuring the orcas and the bears were "modelled after other successful community art projects, such as Chicago's 'Cows on Parade', Toronto's 'Moose in the City' and Saskatoon's 'Pigs in the City'." source: www.orcasinthecity.com
These fiberglass figures often prove to be popular photo opps for tourists, but does it really contribute to the cultural fabric of our streets? Compared to the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale, the cookie cutter figures are better described as "craft" rather than "art."
And while the bears have clearly outsold the Orcas, it begs the question: "What's next?" Will the next family of fundraising critters to grace our streets will be one of the characters from the Simpsons, the Smurfs, or SpongeBob SquarePants? Time will tell.
For more info, visit http://www.spiritbearsinthecity.com