Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Judith Kindler Turns Bears Loose With a Message
Judith Kindler has fallen in love with her Reclining Bear. And many others have, as well.
Sunday, January 6, 2019


Judith Kindler sat down next to a bear that was reclining on its side, a dreamy look on his face, on a pedestal at Gail Severn Gallery.

“I love this Reclining Bear—he’s so happy and blissful lying there. He makes me smile,” she said. “You look at that bear and you feel like you want to cuddle up with him.”

“Cuddle” might be taking it a bit far. After all, this bear was made of concrete, covered with white paint and then splashed with lines of black paint that are so characteristic of Kindler’s work.

“Teddy’s Bear Installation” pays homage to President Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a bear whom his aides had tied up.

But the sculpture, which is part of her new exhibition, has clearly struck a chord with viewers. It had hardly gone up at Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum before art lovers began clamoring for their own reclining bear in bronze and metal—mediums that will allow it to withstand winter snow and summer heat.

“People have really gravitated towards this exhibition because the bears represent comfort and innocence—all the things we long for in an age when things get heated,” said Kindler. “The teddy bear is iconic image of innocence, which allows me to focus on the idea of finding hope, happiness, joy and peace amidst the corruption, hate and abuse that’s so much around us.”

Even preschoolers can find something to pique their interest in Kindler’s latest work.

Cute little teddies stand amidst Zen-like circles, which represent the idea of finding peace within and unity without, in bright shiny paintings such as “Becoming Happy” and “Zen Bears.”

The Zen-like circles in “Becoming Happy,” represent the idea of finding peace within and unity without.

And three-dimensional cubs climb up a painting titled “Into the Light,” which represents our struggle to achieve.

Just after she finished that piece, Kindler saw a video on YouTube of a cub trying to follow his mother up a snow-covered slope, only to slide back down.

 “I thought, ‘Holy cow!’ because it was so real,” she said. “That bear was trying to survive.”

Kindler spent eight months working on her new works.

Judith Kindler discusses her sculpture touting the need to find balance in the world.

It sprung out of her previous exhibition, “Of What Importance,” which featured 10 life-sized women depicting Mother Earth and wearing such things as antlers and a birdcage. The idea: To prompt viewers to ponder how to balance the needs of the environment and wildlife with man’s desire for development.

“My husband and I moved here full time from Seattle a little over two years ago. And, for the first time in my life I was having a lot of contact with nature,” she said, recounting the experience of watching a moose try to find something to eat during the heavy snows of 2017.  “Where there’s balance, it’s not all this way or that way. But the decisions and choices we make daily do affect not only our own lives but those of everyone around us, including wildlife.”

As she continued to ponder man’s impact on nature, Kinder learned of how the current administration had decided to allow hunters to kill mother bears and their cubs while they were hibernating.

“To me that’s abominable,” she said. “The idea of it deeply upset me. Then I found this little guy.”

Judith Kindler gave an Artist Chat about her newest exhibition over the Christmas holidays at Gail Severn Gallery.

She held up a three-inch-tall plastic bear she had bought for $1 at a local antique show. It became the inspiration for her works.

“It just shows you can find inspiration in any place,” she said.

One of the new works features nine small panels with whimsical three-dimensional teddy bears sitting up, hanging upside down and sprawling sideways. Teddy’s Bear Installation pays homage to the story of how teddy bears came to be named after President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902.

The president was on a bear hunting trip with the Mississippi governor, Kindler said. When he was unable to locate a single bear, his assistants cornered and tied a black bear to a willow tree, then suggested he shoot it.

Roosevelt refused, saying it was unsportsmanlike. Newspaper editors picked up the story, referring to the bear as Teddy’s Bear. And a New York candy store owner received so much acclaim for two stuffed toy bears his wife had made that he began mass producing them, as did a German toy manufacturer.

Even today they are one of the most popular gifts for children and even adults, signifying love, sympathy and even congratulations.

When her exhibition runs its course at Gail Severn Gallery, no doubt some of the pieces will make their way to the 2,400-square foot studio that building contractor Charlie McWilliams just completed at Kindler’s new home north of Hailey.

The studio will no doubt be the envy of many artists, noted Gail Severn.

Kindler designed the studio to include a workshop where everything is neatly put in its place. It also includes storage rooms, a bar at which her husband Kyle can entertain guests and a beautiful gallery featuring some of her Mother Earth sculptures, as well as wall art.

It shows Kindler’s ability to work not just in one medium but many.

“I love 3D work but I also love photography and painting,” she said. “Having different kinds of mediums builds a story.

“But, really,” she added. “It’s not about the medium you choose. It’s what you do with the medium.”

WATCH a video interview with Judith Kindler concerning her latest work at 7:30 tonight--Sunday--on Cox Cable Channel 13 or 1013. The show repeats at various times every afternoon or evening throughout the week.


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