Cree artist Stewart Steinhauer arrived in Nelson with his sculpture Mother Bears Pray for Earth on Tuesday afternoon. It will grace the entrance to city hall and double as a resting bench for weary pedestrians.

Mother bear pair graces Nelson city hall

New installation is carved from granite and is intended as a prayer offering, weighs 6300 kilograms.

Cree artist Stewart Steinhauer supervised the successful installation of his granite sculpture Mother Bears Pray for Earth Healing outside city hall on Tuesday afternoon, but the 6300kg bench necessitated the use of a larger crane than originally planned.

“This is like Jaws, but instead it’s ‘we’re going to need a bigger crane’,” joked cultural development officer Joy Barrett, who oversaw the process as public works employees Kip St. Thomas and Steve Sabo maneuvered it into place.

The sculpture now graces the entrance to city hall and also functions as a resting spot for weary pedestrians walking up and down Ward St. According to Steinhauer, the intent is for the maternal bears to create a welcoming atmosphere.

“That central pool, or bowl, is a prayer offering plate from the Cree culture. The mother bear symbolizes acceptance of everyone who comes to the circle. No one is rejected, everyone is valued,” Steinhauer told the Star.

“In a ceremonial setting, whoever turns up it’s felt they were meant to turn up, so even if enemies arrive they’ll set aside their enmity. That’s what the mother bear is all about.”

So when people sit on his bench, he wants them to feel like they belong.

“The seating welcomes everyone, regardless of their background, to join the bears at the bowl and speak with the mysterious forces of creation about healing the earth.”

Steinhauer said it’s time the global climate crisis was addressed.

“We’re seeing the effects on every corner of the globe, and there’s almost no truly clean land left. I was born and raised on a reserve, and I remember my dad once said ‘white people say we’re not developed, but one day this is going to be the only clean land left in North America that hasn’t been logged or mined or polluted.”

Steinhauer said he has no “corporate or wealthy” clients, and all the public art he has on display—including a piece in the Castlegar Sculpturewalk—is intended to celebrate his Cree, Ojibwe and Mohawk ancestors.

“In my opinion Nelson is where there are real artists,” said Steinhauer. “I don’t consider myself to be one, I work in isolation, but there are people here like John McKinnon who are brilliant.”

Along with his wife Cindi, Steinhauer brought two additional bear sculptures to share with the Nelson community, since they proved to be so popular the last time he came through town. He said his close friend, business owner Howie Ross, was instrumental in getting him this opportunity.

“I was sitting in a sweat lodge years ago and all of a sudden Howie popped into my mind. I thought ‘what does that mean?’ I hadn’t seen him in decades. But I decided to go see him, and planned my first trip through the Kootenays.”

That was 6 or 7 years ago, and yesterday Ross was on hand to watch his friend complete the project. Steinhauer thanked both Ross and Barrett for supporting his work. He said there’s something about bears that seems to appeal to a universal audience.

“The last time I was through here we parked the bears on Baker Street, taking up two spots, and then a phenomenal event happened—people just began to converge, climbing all over it and looking at them. We ended up standing there the entire morning. It seems to click with people readily.”

The sculpture will be available for sale after it’s one-year loan with the city, and the current asking price is $100,000.

 

Just Posted

Leafs add 2 players at KIJHL trade deadline

Nelson also traded defenceman Tyson Soobotin to Castlegar

VIDEO: Kootenay drug users fight stigma with video series

The multi-part series from ANKORS is meant to align with the goals of the Nelson Fentanyl Task Force

Nelson police warn of counterfeit money in city

The department says it has received multiple reports of fake Canadian and U.S. cash

Nelson library asks city for 2 per cent funding increase

The increase would cover inflation, increased use, stagnant provincial funding, and a negotiated wage increase

Trail cannabis shop gets green light from province

The Higher Path hopes to open doors in next couple of weeks

VIDEO: Monday Roundup

The Star’s weekly news roundup

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

B.C. city’s computer system suffered malware attack last year

No personal data was compromised when City of Cranbrook was hit by ransomware last spring.

Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

Property owners have to register to avoid vacant-home tax

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

Good Samaritan rescues cat found in heaps of garbage at B.C. landfill

The cat was abandoned and left to die at the Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill, the BC SPCA says

East Kootenay town pitches $80m multi-purpose community centre

City of Fernie vies for slice of cost-sharing pie to integrate recreation facilities into new centre

Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna home to Canada’s most expensive rentals: report

According to PadMapper, units in larger B.C. cities cost $1,300 to more than $3,000

B.C. home sales drop 25% in 2018

The B.C. Real Estate Association points to the federal government’s mortage stress test

Most Read