“There apparently is no cure for the strain of Bear Fever afflicting Lyn and Beth Camella-Rich of Dancing Tree Creations Artisans Gallery and Studio,” quipped Jane Stahl, former Boyertown teacher and co-founder of Boyertown’s Bear Fever project with her husband Paul, marketing consultant and graphic artist.
“Beth and Lyn have done it again; they’ve created another exclusive Bear Fever collectible. This offering, a puzzle, is yet another way to celebrate Boyertown’s beloved Bear Fever project,” added Stahl. The Bear Fever coaster project and now the puzzle project serve as a fundraising opportunity in support of Studio B Fine Art Gallery where Stahl serves as Director of Community Relations.
The Bear Fever puzzle, a product of Zen Art and Design, is a handcrafted artisanal, heirloom quality, eco-friendly wooden jigsaw puzzle for ages 8-adult. Unique to each puzzle are “wonderful whimsical figural pieces” cut in the shapes of animals and a complimentary journal that the company provides for friends and families to record memories each time the puzzle is the center of their entertainment.
Several sizes of the puzzle are available: a “teaser” with 50 pieces and 1 figural; a “small” with 125 pieces and 5 figurals; a “medium” with 202 pieces and 8 figurals; and a “large” with 299 pieces and 10 figurals. Each size is priced separately. A wooden frame is also available to house the completed puzzle.
“Paul suggested we use a photograph of a ‘real’ bear for the puzzle for a variety of reasons. It’s a terrific photograph and makes the most challenging puzzle; and, of course, there was no way we could choose just one of the 70+ bears to feature. We love them all,” noted Stahl.
For dedicated collectors, each of the beloved bears is becoming part of the sets of coasters created and offered by Dancing Tree Creations and Artisans Gallery and Studio. Six sets of four bears each are currently available.
“Studio B Fine Art Gallery is grateful for the on-going generosity and creativity of Lyn and Beth Camella-Rich,” noted Stahl; “Paul and I continue to be amazed and charmed by Bear Fever’s popularity and the artful products the project has inspired,” she concluded.
The Mission and a Hint of History re Puzzles from Zen Art and Design:
“We handcraft our artisanal, heirloom quality, wooden jigsaw puzzles in the USA and contribute a portion of our profits to extraordinary organizations working to restore the ecological sustainability of the earth and to improve the lives of all creatures living on it.”
“In 1760, a map maker and geography teacher in England named John Spilsbury glued a map to a board, sawed it into sections, and used it to teach his students geography. By 1900, these “Dissected Maps” had evolved into a very popular form of entertainment for both adults and children in Europe and the U.S.: the wooden jigsaw puzzle.
“The number of makers of wooden jigsaw puzzles grew steadily between 1900 and the 1930’s, when the emergence of the hydraulic press during the Great Depression enabled the introduction of the die-cut, cardboard jigsaw puzzle—a stripped down, inexpensive version of the premium wooden puzzle. In fact, large companies gave the first cardboard puzzles away for free to advertise their products!
“The cardboard puzzle gave struggling families great relief and enjoyment during the Great Depression. Their low cost of production and prices allowed them to become wildly popular, while the full-featured, artisanal, wooden jigsaw puzzle became the premium niche product which sells today for up to $10,000 per puzzle with an average price range of $600-$1,200.”
“To develop cohesiveness and community spirit through participation in this unique artistic project” serves as the mission of Bear Fever. The project was inspired by a desire to celebrate and beautify a beloved hometown and community and bring together many members of the community to have fun and work hard.
Bear Fever has endeavored to promote the arts and artists everywhere, but the project has been especially eager to celebrate those many gifted artists of all ages who live and work in the greater Boyertown community, a very special kind of place.
A distinctive feature of Boyertown’s Bear Fever’s mission–enlisting the involvement of the community’s young people in each aspect of the project—gave them experiences and authentic opportunities to participate in their community; employ their knowledge; and practice communication, art-related, and business skills that they learn in their classrooms. The students developed friendships among all age groups, learned about their community’s wealth of resources and the support for them and their education, discovered career paths, and made a remarkable difference in their community.
“Paul figured the community could support the project of 40-60 bears, but even he is surprised at how well-received the project has been in the community after all these years,” she continued. “There seems to be no cure for Bear Fever.”
Bear Fever features over 70 life-sized fiberglass bear sculptures decorated by local artists and sponsored by local businesses, individuals, and organizations. The project, begun in 2003, debuted 35 bears at Boyertown High School’s annual Arts Expo in May 2005. Since then, the collection has doubled, and residents and visitors to the area continue their love affair with the bear statues.
“I knew folks would like our bears, seeing art on the street, learning more about art and artists, participating in the project, meeting the business people and community members who sponsored the bears; but I had no idea how much they would love the project,” noted Jane Stahl, former BASH teacher and co-founder of the project with her husband Paul, marketing consultant and graphic artist.
Further information about the project along with a map and locations chart can be found at www.bearfever.org.