A Little About Our Bear

Lyons has a new resident whose address is the corner of Fourth and Railroad Avenues. Those walking or driving by the Library are urged not to be alarmed, call the Department of Wildlife, nor worry about their trash; this giant bear is definitely the friendly sort!

Created by local artist Anita Miller, the sculpture, depicting a large bear with a book-reading boy in its lap, was installed at the Library in November. Dave Papuga, of Lyons Lawn and Landscape, generously donated his time, lift, and trailer in the effort to relocate the bear from Anita’s garage to the Library.

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Anita, an accomplished artist most recently recognized in Lyons for the Bell of Renewal that resides in the west end of Bohn Park, says she first felt the urge to sculpt a bear on a rock. Anita thought the bear looked lonely on his rock and wanted him to have a friend. She says her own son as a kid and his special fondness for bears came to mind and suddenly the bear had a partner. The boy, however, looked like he needed something to do. What else would a boy in the lap of a large bear do but read a book? The idea came together and, according to Anita, celebrates the joy of reading and how one’s imagination can take one away and even make a huge, friendly bear become real.

Anita chose a sculptable cement-like clay called Pal Tiya as her medium. Pal Tiya was developed in Australia primarily for special effects and Anita had to take a class to learn to use the proprietary material. Initially, she sculpted a small, 8-10 inch version of the piece that she then had scanned and 3D printed into a 7-foot tall replica from foam. The foam replica was then reinforced internally with rebar. Anita’s husband, Rob, mixed batch after batch while Anita applied layers, sculpting directly as she went as each 5-cup batch is easily workable for only about 15 minutes at a time. The end result, after a week of curing, is as strong as stone and weather proof; but please, no climbing up to join the young reader.

The Library and Anita wish to sincerely thank both the Town of Lyons and the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission for their support and assistance in bringing the bear home to the Library. Sorting out details like ownership, insurance, and recognition is made so much easier with great partnerships. The Library is proud to support LAHCs mission to beautify the streets of Lyons, promote local art, and educate the viewing public on artistic inspirations and procedures.

Anita says, “the new library felt like the best place for him to live as he welcomes and invites people to experience the joy of reading.” The Board and Staff of the Library couldn’t agree more and are thrilled with the whimsical installation they’re sure will become a destination in Lyons.