Carving, Sculpture and Relief Art|
Jonathan The Bear Man
What others say about Jonathan:
“Jonathan is truly the Michelangelo of
“Jonathan Andrew LaBenne known as, Jonathan The Bear Man’s art has given him a distinct place among serious art collectors all over the west and abroad. His creative carvings are known to be the most anatomically correct while projecting living movement and personality! For this reason they are sought after by the most particular art critics. Because of his ability to create life-like images, the wild creatures of the west will forever live in his wood carvings!
"His creative ability and artistic lifestyle
have led him in many directions. Since seriously beginning his art career
in 1983, Jonathan’s art has been earnestly sought after. Among his famous
accomplishments receiving national and international recognition are: The
50 ft tall Idyllwild Tree Monument in the San Jacinto Mountains of
California depicting native wildlife and man. The Yellowstone Grizzly of
Yellowstone National Park standing in the Yellowstone Lodge by the old
Faithful Viewing window. The Codger Pole of Colfax, Washington recorded in
‘Ripelys believe it or not’ as the largest carving in the world: It sports
the whimsical likenesses of 52 high school football players who played a
50 year grudge match in their late 60s and 70s! The faces up to 7ft tall
capture the moods and excitement of the players Jonathan saw on the
recordings of live coverage of the game! Then the 3 Best Western Hotels of
Jackson Hole Wyoming made famous by Jonathan’s bears and other art! He was
granted the “Legion of Valor” Award for the Desert Storm Monument
dedicated to the U.S. troops under fire and president George Bush!
Presently Jonathan’s talents have taken him to Deer Valley, Utah where he
carved a 50 foot monument on a major ski run for the 2002 winter Olympics,
sponsored by a private individual! This spectacular work of art will truly
give him the world wide recognition so deserving to this one of a kind
“Interviewing Jonathan is an experience in
itself. You can sense the excitement in his voice when he talks of his
love for the mountains!”
“If we weren’t on the map before, we are now. Jonathan LaBenne’s monument tree has been completed and dedicated...But while I have unabashed admiration for the sculpture, I have mixed feelings about the dedication ceremony.
Being the tree hugger that I am, I’m not a great fan of the roar and fumes of a chainsaw. I always thought that “chainsaw art” was an oxymoron. But after seeing the monument with its awesome eagle, its marvelous mountain lion...and its character-capturing likeness of Emax (contemporary historian, artist and mountain man for whom local trails are named) I’ve been converted. In fact, after witnessing the live demonstration that transformed a log of incense cedar to a bear cub before my very eyes, you might say I’ve been born again. LaBenne is truly gifted...
Nevertheless, I was a little surprised by the content of LaBenne’s speech...But perhaps that’s because I have been off the hill where crowds tend to be less homogeneously WASP and the sensibilities of other faiths are a little more respected.
Our Southland cities tend to have large enough populations of Buddhists and Moslems that most public speakers, i.e. politicians, are a little more diplomatic.
But LaBenne was speaking from his heart, and nobody can doubt that his heart is filled with love for Jesus Christ. And the love for this mountain, its original people (as represented by the special guests from local Native American Tribal groups), its animals (from squirrels to coyotes to butterflies), and the whole community.
And even while the monument and the village
huddled in the darkening shadow of a lowering cloud, the high country
still blazed golden in the late afternoon sun, providing the perfect
backdrop for a monument that deserves its place in history.”
“Jonathan's work compliments the western
architectural style of our three Jackson Hole hotels to a level which far
exceeded my greatest expectations. His work has successfully displayed the
true character of the grizzly as well as the black bear as powerful,
graceful and natural to our surroundings.”
"Idyllwild has many of God’s blessing, among our most treasured is Jonathan LaBenne and his family. His art has blessed us, his deep faith has inspired us, and his life has been an example for us.
Jon and Pam, we thank you and wish you God’s
speed as you travel and share your life, your faith and your
"Jonathan is known for his capture and love of the wilderness; especially the bear in his art. His work centers on the mountains and all its inhabitants. You have read some of my favorite quotes from others about Jonathan’s Character and his Art.
When into his art, he is intense and single-minded, almost worthless for anything else, everyone loses him. On a project, his children, to gain eye contact with their dad, bring him back by saying earth to dad, earth to dad! We get him back when he has completed the project! But that is a true artist! He relaxes and is at home in the wilderness as much as most people are in their living rooms. He derives his inspiration from the wilderness, hiking, canoeing, horseback, rafting, or just being there. He also loves living it through the eyes of his children and others. Following, are quotes I hear from Jonathan often: “You haven’t experienced the wilderness till you have been in it over three days, you have only tasted”!
“I love wood” says Jonathan “ other mediums have their place but wood is warm and alive! It best symbolizes living flesh. It is a powerful yet humble medium. The Creator designed me an artist to work wood. It is a passion he gave to me!” Last but not least Jonathan says “Art is like a rainbow. Don’t define it and lose its symbolism. Don’t try to grab it, for it will elude you. Just enjoy it for what it is!”
He loves being with his wife and five children
out where it is wild. His patrons who know him don’t have to be notified
of Jonathan’s requirements when he is commissioned a major time away from
home! They readily provide accommodations for the whole family; as
Jonathan says “they are my life”! I know him best. I have spent 20
years with sawdust in my bed! I am his wife--