Arts Council and CNA partner on new sculpture installation

Watch out for a new bear hanging out along viewing platform on Spruce Street in the coming days

Alex Witcombe’s newest sculpture is just about complete and ready for installation at the Spruce Street rest area in Campbellton, thanks to a partnership between the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association and the Campbell River Arts Council, with funding from the Campbell River Community Foundation. Photo courtesy Alex Witcombe

Alex Witcombe’s newest sculpture is just about complete and ready for installation at the Spruce Street rest area in Campbellton, thanks to a partnership between the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association and the Campbell River Arts Council, with funding from the Campbell River Community Foundation. Photo courtesy Alex Witcombe

There will soon be another bear for people to look out for along the shore of the Campbell River.

This one, however, you can get right up close and personal with.

Alex Witcombe, the artist behind Drifted Creations, who has contributed a huge amount of public art to the community over the past few years, has now been tasked with creating another piece thanks to a grant from the Campbell River Community Foundation.

The foundation, through its Community Grants program, recently issued a cheque for $6,000 to make the project happen.

“It’s about improving the neighbourhood and making it a safer and more attractive place to visit,” says Laurel Cronk with the Community Foundation. “We support health, children, education, and other things, but this particular one we were happy to fund because of its connection to the arts.”

The sculpture will add to the work being done by the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association (CNA) to beautify their area of town, according to CNA member Morgan Ostler.

“The CNA was founded in 2012, and one of our first priorities was to improve access to the river,” Ostler says. “Back then you could drive through Campbellton and have no idea there was a river flowing through the area just a block or so away.”

But over the intervening years, the CNA got support from the City of Campbell River and a ton of volunteers to make a few access points, like the one at the end of Spruce Street, where they built a small viewpoint and rest area, and where Witcombe’s newest creation will live.

The Campbell River Arts Council oversaw the project on behalf of the CNA, and executive director Ken Blackburn says the organization is happy to do so.

“It’s really the perfect kind of partnership for us,” Blackburn says. “This is literally what we do. We partner with community organizations to promote economic and community development through the arts, so we were really happy to work with the Community Foundation to support the CNA in their efforts to improve and rebrand along the Campbell River.”

Witcombe is was especially happy that when they approached him with the idea, they pitched it as a bear.

“Honestly, I’ve only done one bear – along with two cubs, I guess – and that was one of my first pieces,” Witcombe says. “And that was also a private commission, so it’s not accessible to the public. It’ll be great to have one in the Drifted Creations lineup that’s for public viewing.”

He’s currently finishing up work on the bear at his studio, hoping to have it installed in time for Greenways Loop Day on Oct. 2, so stop by the viewing platform and rest area at the end of Spruce Street one of these days and you might be one of the first to see the new bear when it’s installed.

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From left to right: Laurel Cronk with the Campbell River Community Foundation, Morgan Ostler with the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association and Ken Blackburn with the Campbell River Arts Council, present a cheque to Alex Witcombe and send him off to his studio to create a bear out of driftwood for the Spruce Street Viewpoint in Campbellton.

From left to right: Laurel Cronk with the Campbell River Community Foundation, Morgan Ostler with the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association and Ken Blackburn with the Campbell River Arts Council, present a cheque to Alex Witcombe and send him off to his studio to create a bear out of driftwood for the Spruce Street Viewpoint in Campbellton.