Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bears! Oh, My!

There usually isn't much happening on the sad streets of Easthampton. Unlike Amherst, it lacks a lovely town common. It has none of the trendy stores that draw people to Northampton. And it seems that the recession has hit the streets of Easthampton harder than the other towns, if the "For Rent" signs are any indicator. In Easthampton's defense, however, I must say that the open studio days at the numerous artists' studios in a couple of the former factories are a huge draw, and the watch repair shop comes highly recommended. But now, Easthampton's got something that no other local town has -- it's Bear Fest.

The bears got their start several months ago when they were distributed to local artists. Here are some of them, waiting to be picked up by their artists:

I snapped the naked bear below back in March, as it posed in the window of a gallery, where local artist Greg Stone painted it with a fish motif. It now sits next to Nashawannuck Pond.

Last weekend, I walked around the rotary and down Union Street, seeing and snapping about half of the 30-some bears. Along the way, I saw dozens of other people out admiring the bears, smiling and laughing. The otherwise sad streets felt much happier with the bears in town. I plan to go back soon to find and photograph the rest of them. See them on my Flickr page.

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