Grizzly bear sculpture captures Santa Clarita’s history

Artist Frank Rock stands next to the Santa Clarita History Bear after it is unveiled at Old Town Newhall Library on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

A grizzly bear was sighted outside of the Old Town Newhall Library on Wednesday afternoon.

As part of a local arts community effort called the California Bear Project, the fifth installment of the series was unveiled to the community, depicting scenes in the valley’s history.

The five-by-ten-foot Santa Clarita History Bear was brought to life by local artist Frank Rock.

“I created it not just as an homage to our amazing history, but also to help people remember and learn why Santa Clarita is such an amazing place to live,” Rock said. “It’s colorful, it’s touchable, it’s educational, but most importantly, it’s home.”

Artist Frank Rock unveils the Santa Clarita History Bear as the city council and employees stand beside him at Old Town Newhall Library on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Rock lovingly named the bear “Beale Butt” because Beale’s Cut near the Newhall Pass is painted on the statue’s rear end.

The statue also features Vasquez Rocks, Tiburcio Vásquez, William S. Hart, Saugus Café, the Saugus Train Station, the Oak of the Golden Dream, the Newhall Ranch House, E.M. Chaix Grocery Store, the Sierra Highway Tunnel, the Walk of Western Stars, the longest running oil rig, various animals and the St. Francis Dam, which Rock is an expert on.

“I look forward to seeing our children and grandchildren exploring the bear, finding their favorite landmarks, making him part of a scavenger hunt or a tribute quest, using him as a teaching tool about our history,” Rock said.

Artist Frank Rock delivers a speech during the unveiling of the Santa Clarita History Bear at Old Town Newhall Library on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The Canyon Theatre Guild commissioned the series in 2004. Other bears can be found at the Santa Clarita Transit Center, Valencia Heritage Park, The Patios at Valencia Town Center and Golden Valley High School.

Before the Santa Clarita History Bear found its home outside the library, it was located behind the theater.

The piece belonged out in the open where people could see it every day, TimBen Boydston, The Canyon Theatre Guild’s executive and artistic director and a former city council member said.

“We are very honored to have Frank’s piece out in the public,” Boydston said. “We really wanted to be part of the project because we know how important the visual arts are as well as the performing arts.”

Art captures who a community was, what they thought and how they felt, according to Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who said the bear serves this purpose for Santa Clarita.

“It’s a mirror image of our community and it helps us identify ourselves, our past, our present and inspire our future,” Weste said. “It now becomes an integral part of the city.”

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