Artistic? Creative? Want to exhibit your work locally? Submit your sketch for decorating a bear sculpture for the 9th annual Black Bear Film Festival. You don’t have to make the sculpture yet, just devise a wonderful way to adorn it.


Artistic? Creative? Want to exhibit your work locally? Submit your sketch for decorating a bear sculpture for the 9th annual Black Bear Film Festival. You don’t have to make the sculpture yet, just devise a wonderful way to adorn it.

Right now, the Black Bear Film Festival is seeking artists to create the Painted Bear Sculptures that will grace the streets of Milford for several months before this year’s Festival, to be held October 17-19.  Sketch application deadline is Monday, July 21, with bears to be completed by August 25.

Artists whose concepts are accepted will transform the creatures into painted and decorated sculptures. From whimsy to funny to outrageous to extraordinarily beautiful, the Painted Bears are a highlight of each year’s Festival, and are auctioned at the end of the Festival to the highest bidder in an often hotly competitive bidding that is a prime Film Festival fundraiser.

On August 30 the completed sculptures will be unveiled and placed around the Milford area in front of sponsoring businesses.

“The painted bears are an exciting aspect of the Film Festival, and draw loads of visitors to the area,” says Black Bear Executive Director Nancy Pitcher. “As soon as the decorated bears are placed at our sponsor locations visitors come to snap photos of the sculptures. People often stop by the festival office to pick up a painted bear map and do the whole tour.”

2008 marks the ninth year that the Painted Bears will roam the streets of Milford in honor of the independent Film Festival. The life-sized bear sculptures originate as fiberglass hunting targets sold by sporting goods stores.

The idea of painted sculptures being placed around city streets originated in Zurich in 1998 with painted cows, and more cows soon popped up in Chicago and New York City. In 2000 the Painted Bears first appeared in Milford for the Black Bear Film Festival, and the idea has spread throughout the country, with decorated dolphins in Delaware, painted ponies in New Mexico, giant fish in New Orleans, alligators in Miami, painted moose in Toronto, and the “Big Pig Gig” in Cincinnati, just to name a few.

Previous Black Bear Film Festival-goers have been enchanted by all sorts of themed bears — a bear made of black glass, a clown, goddess, wind-up toy, Native American, celestial, fantasy, even an Uncle Sam Bear. Examples of past year’s designs can be seen on the Festival’s website at www.BlackBearFilm.com (click on “Painted Bear and Silent Auctions”).

Concept sketches will be voted on by a design committee in late July, and the unpainted bear sculptures will be provided to the selected artists in as soon as selection is complete, with completed bears due by August 25. Artists receive $50 toward the costs of materials; bears become the property of the Festival for auction purposes.

For an application form, please call the Festival at 570-409-0909, e-mail info@blackbearfilm.com, or see the Festival’s website www.BlackBearFilm.com.