2020 – Di – 30″x36″ – acrylic on canvas

The Grizzly Bear, Ursus arctos horribilis, the North American Brown Bear, forest builder, apex predator and teacher of the land. They captivate us, terrify us, and connect us to the intricate web of life that exists here on the coast of British Columbia.

It is not without some fear that we contemplate the Grizzly. It is a powerful spirit- both in raw strength and in personality. As an apex predator the Grizzly is responsible for maintaining ecosystems. They influence population dynamics within their communities, both of smaller predators and prey, and thus have a trickle-down effect to the lower trophic levels of flora and fauna. Grizzlies are central to the functioning of healthy ecosystems; the regulation of disease, the maintenance of biodiversity, and the recycling/recirculating of nutrients throughout the forest.

Grizzlies have existed here in North America for approximately 50,000 years. They once roamed as far south as Mexico and as far east as Hudson Bay. Now they are found primarily in the northwestern United States and up through Canada to Alaska and the Yukon. They currently occupy only 50% of their traditional territories, but in most regions populations are strong- despite noticeable decline due to hunting and habitat loss.

The coast of British Columbia offers the Grizzly a rich and diverse diet centered on large amounts of fatty salmon. For this reason bears here are often larger than their inland cousins. On the coast a Grizzlies life revolves around the salmon, much as it does for the coastal First Nations who have lived here from time immemorial. Salmon feeds the forest and the sea, they are a foundation species critical to all life here on the coast. During the summer months when the salmon is not running Grizzlies can be found foraging the shorelines in search of supplemental foodstuffs- clams, mussels and herring roe. This is just one of the many reasons a healthy shoreline supports an entire ecosystem and the many animals that depend on it, from little to big, from the magnificent Orca in the sea to the great Grizzly of the forest.

It was this relationship to the land that I wanted to portray in the painting “Forage” which features a golden-colored Grizzly Bear foraging along a rocky BC shoreline full of mussels, barnacles, starfish and various seaweeds. I will touch more on Grizzlies here in Howe Sound and the importance of healthy shorelines when this painting is featured in my 2021 Exhibition on Bowen Island. Stay tuned for details!

This piece is currently on display at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature in Victoria, BC, as part of the ‘Grizzly Bear: Teachers of the Land’ Exhibition in partnership with the Grizzly Bear Foundation. The show is on now and runs from October 3rd to January 23rd 2021. Visit https://batemanfoundation.org/ for more information including hours of operation. If you are in the Victoria area don’t miss out on this stunning exhibition in honor of the remarkable Grizzly!

For the duration of this exhibition 100% of proceeds from the sale of “Forage” prints and cards will go to the Bateman Foundation and the Grizzly Bear Foundation. These can be purchased directly via my website (https://artbydi.ca/shop/) or through the Bateman Foundation Gallery of nature gift shop.

The original painting ‘Forage’ will be for sale at my 2021 Exhibition on Bowen Island. Please contact me for more information: di@artbydi.ca

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