Ursa Mater (Mother Penny Bear), a statement of a mother's love and protection, is both endearing and powerful. The 12-foot tall mother grizzly bear nestles her two cubs, the tallest is 6 feet tall, while the other is 5 feet tall. The sculpture's coat is made from 200,000 pennies (including ones from Canada, as the penny has been phased out from the country's currency) that were meticulously placed from shiny ones to older ones to make them look like fur, welcoming a tactile experience.
This public art experience has been made possible by the cooperation, collaborative efforts, reviews, and approvals from the following agencies in the North Lake Tahoe community: CalTrans, North Tahoe Fire Protection District, North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council, Placer County, Tahoe City Downtown Association, Tahoe City Public Utilities District, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Heritage Plaza, a property owned by Placer County, is designed to preserve and enhance regional public beach access and recreational opportunities in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Husband and wife artists, Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson, create detailed, interactive, often whimsical large-scale artworks that change visual and sensual perception as one gets closer to the art, including their penny-covered grizzly bears that premiered at Burning Man , “Ursa Major” (2016) and “Ursa Mater” (2017). “Ursa Major” is part of the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery outdoor public art exhibit “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” currently on display in Washington, D.C.. "Ursa Mater" was recently exhibited as part of Downtown San Jose's Office of Cultural Affairs, Burning Man Project - Playa to Paseo. Next stop, Tahoe City!