Grizzly bears ready for Balboa Park rooftop!

Two huge golden grizzly bears have come to life in San Diego, and are ready to stand on a Balboa Park rooftop!

Yesterday the two amazing sculptures were previewed. I took photographs!

The life-size bronze bears–each weighing about 400 pounds–will soon be placed atop the roof of the 1935 California State Building, which today is home of the San Diego Automotive Museum. The sculptures will stand on the front corners of the building, as bears once did almost a century ago, back when the building debuted for the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition.

Artists Mike and Kevin Matson of Bellagio Precast have been busy working on these new bear sculptures at their San Diego studio. Perhaps you remember my blog post from late 2021 with photos of one partially cold cast bronze bear.

The two huge bears are now one hundred percent finished and ready for transportation 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 up to their respective corners. All of this should occur in April. Watch for it!

As I mentioned, the original 1935 bears were only temporary (likely made of plaster-like material) and disappeared long ago. A few old photographs show them atop the California State Building. Here’s one:

In the above enlarged photograph, you might also glimpse a flagpole over the building’s front entrance. Two flagpoles are also returning to the historic California State Building! Brackets for them have already been 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 something more like its original 1935 appearance. The organization has been working to preserve Balboa Park’s historic architecture, gardens and public spaces since 1967.

The Committee of 100’s initial undertaking in the Palisades was the reproduction of historical murals above the entrance to this same building. Perhaps you’ve seen those beautiful tile murals. If you haven’t, click here.

The California State Building’s new life-size bears have been years in the making. At yesterday’s event we were shown small working models that preceded the finished sculptures. Kevin Matson held them up for examination:

So how exactly were life-size cold cast bronze bears made?

Each of the finished bear sculptures has a Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete skin that is about 3/8″ to 1/2” thick. Two sculpture halves are joined together with a stainless steel frame inside. Each bear’s volume is then filled with a high density urethane foam.

How awesome are these golden grizzlies? Take a look!

The Balboa Park Committee of 100 is engaged in another fantastic project! They are recreating a large historical mural that will be placed above the entrance of the Municipal Gymnasium building. It, too, will be breathtaking!

I’ll be blogging about that shortly!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark and swing on by occasionally!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

One thought on “Grizzly bears ready for Balboa Park rooftop!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.