Chairman of the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust, Paul Chervenak, with Madsen Bear. Via Chervenak
Many parks and museums can boast at least one bronze statue to honor a famous figure. Maybe the monument is a noble steed and its famous rider, his saber raised as if mid-charge or a hand pointed ahead. Or maybe it’s a symbolic figure, like New York’s Statue of Liberty.
As for Kodiak, the city has a statue that honors one of its most famous figures: the Kodiak brown bear. Right now, a life-size fiberglass bear is located outside the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. It’s about sixty-years old, and it looks its age according to Paul Chervenak, the chairman of the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust, a nonprofit that works towards Kodiak brown bear conservation.
“Of course, just sunlight would do it, but wind and rain, salt, so the actual statue itself is cracking. There’s been some vandalism and damage, or maybe just accidents, people wanting to have pictures taken with it, so they’re climbing on it and breaking the claws off, etc. And we’ve tried to repair it and keep it up, but it’s sort of [a] losing battle.”
There’s a price tag, but as with a lot of the statues in other communities, this bear is more than a piece of art.
According to the funding page, the statue commemorates Kodiak’s first registered bear guide, Charles Madsen, one of the people to encourage the protection of the Kodiak brown bear after the popularity of hunting in the early 20th century started having an effect.
According to Chervenak, who guides big-game hunters, sport-fishermen and wildlife viewers, he can relate to the significance of the Madsen Bear.
“I am a firm believer in giving back, especially to what I derive my business from. This particular project is special to a lot of us, but it really represents what guides and sportsmen have done for the Kodiak bear.”
Chervenak says the Brown Bear Trust has gotten involved in a project to replace the aging statue, which has moved all around town over the years – from the old Kodiak hotel to the spit, along with other locations.
Chervenak says the replacement project is called Rebuild the Bear.
“We started talking about it about a year ago and we started checking into the cost of – potentially bronze would be the nicest and most durable. The cost was pretty high. We happen to have a very wonderful offer from an artist who would help do a lot of it. So, it actually made it a potential reality.”
The Kodiak Brown Bear Trust is in negotiations with the artist, Stan Watts, and the foundry he owns in Utah, Atlas Bronze Casting.
Chervenak says the group has an idea of the steps it takes to make a bronze sculpture.
“They make a clay replica and so, this bear is gonna be life-sized or bigger than life-sized, probably close to ten feet tall. They’ll do it out of clay, they’ll let us view it, make any changes we want so we get a true Kodiak bear, and then after they have the clay sculpture, they then cast it in bronze.”
Chervenak says the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust has turned to social media and corporate donations to cover the $40,000 it will contribute through fundraising.
Chervenak says they launched a social media campaign about ten days ago using IndieGoGo, a crowdfunding website. So far, they’ve raised more than $8,000. However, that only covers a fraction of the overall cost.
“The artist is trying to line up donors through people he knows to cover the rest of it. I mean, the total project will probably be $100,000 to $125,000 by the time you create it, ship it here and install it, and so he’s covering that end of it.”
Chervenak says the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust will probably sign a contract with Watts this week.
Check out the crowdfunding website here.