The grizzly bears are ready to climb onto the roof of Balboa Park!

Two huge golden grizzly bears have come to life in San Diego and are ready to stand on the roof of Balboa Park!

Two amazing sculptures were presented yesterday. I took photos!

The life-size bronze bears, each weighing about 400 pounds, will soon be placed on the roof of the 1935 California State Building, which today houses the San Diego Automotive Museum. Sculptures will stand in the front corners of the building, as the bears once did nearly a century ago when the building made its debut at the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition.

Artists Mike and Kevin Matson of Bellagio Precast have been busy working on these new bear sculptures in their studio in San Diego. You may remember my late 2021 blog post with photos of a partially cold cast bronze bear.

The two huge bears are now 100% complete and ready to be transported to Balboa Park! Once the roof of the San Diego Automotive Museum is structurally prepared for the heavy sculptures, they will be lifted by crane to the appropriate corners. All this should happen in April. Follow it!

As I mentioned, the original 1935 bears were only temporary (probably made of plaster material) and long gone. Several old photographs show them on top of the California State Building. Here is one:

You can also see the flagpole above the building’s main entrance in the above enlarged photo. two flagpoles Also Return to Historic California State Building! Brackets for them are already created:

The new bears and flagpoles are part of an ongoing effort by the Balboa Park Committee of 100 to restore the Palisades area of ​​Balboa Park to its original 1935 appearance. The organization was has been working to preserve the historic architecture, gardens and public spaces of Balboa Park since 1967.

The original task of the Committee of 100 in the Palisade was to reproduce the historical frescoes above the entrance to the same building. You may have seen these beautiful tile murals. If not, click here.

The new life-size bears for the California State Building took years to create. At yesterday’s event, we were shown small working models that preceded the finished sculptures. Kevin Matson held them up for inspection:

So how were the life-sized cold-cast bronze bears made? Each of the finished bear sculptures is hollow and contains a steel skeleton. The final “assembly” involved joining the two halves of each bear together.

How cool are these golden grizzlies? Let’s take a look!

The Balboa Park Committee of 100 is engaged in another fantastic project! They are recreating a large historical fresco, which will be placed above the entrance to the building of the city gymnasium. This will be exciting too!

I will blog about it soon!

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