Local artists Morgan Bricca of Los Altos and Karen Druker of Los Altos Hills have each decorated fiberglass bears for the Los Altos Bears project that has overtaken downtown Los Altos.
Bricca, Druker and other professional and student artists have created a slew of bears to celebrate the community’s emergence from its long, pandemic-induced hibernation. When the bears are auctioned at an Oct. 9 gala, the proceeds will fund charitable projects of the Rotary Club of Los Altos and will reimburse the artists.
Mosaic of cultures
Bricca, a muralist, painted the “Can You See Yourself in California?” bear, a grizzly on display in Veterans Community Plaza at the intersection of Main and State streets.
Bricca said her goal for her bear was to represent California’s unique natural features and the mosaic of cultures represented in and around Los Altos. The bear wears a necklace of California wildflowers and is draped in a Mexican serape blanket accented with Guatemalan and Mayan designs. On the blanket, she painted images of nature including redwoods, mountains, feathers and the Pacific surf. After interviewing first- and second-generation immigrants, Bricca added vivid images evoking China, Japan, Persia, Vietnam, Russia, Eastern Europe, Korea and India.
After six years in the IT business, Bricca began painting murals in San Diego. She worked to refine her technical painting skills, and her business grew. She moved to Los Altos in 2008 and established Morgan Mural Studios (morganmurals.com). Bricca has painted murals at several local public schools, including a black falcon mural at Blach Intermediate School.
She has painted more than 550 indoor and outdoor murals throughout the world.
Bricca describes herself as an entrepreneur, steeped in the competitive world of art. Over her art career, she said, the demand for murals has grown. As more artists have moved into the area, competition for jobs and levels of compensation have increased.
Despite the competition, Bricca aims to help other mural artists. During the pandemic, she wrote and self-published “The Mural Artist’s Handbook.” She also trains other mural artists through master classes and workshops.
Committed to creativity
Druker said she lives for art and sees it as a necessary force in people’s lives. She has been an artist for 20 years, recently focusing on abstract painting.
Although bears were not an obvious canvas, Druker said she enjoyed painting and adding objects to her five fanciful bears. “Handy Bear” welcomes customers to Los Altos Hardware on First Street. Dressed in a red shirt, jeans and work shoes, “Handy Bear” sports a hard hat, tool belt and toolbox.
Her other bears reside atop wine barrels on Main and State streets in downtown Los Altos. The brilliantly colored “Gardening Bear” wears a straw hat and carries a garden hose to water the flowers and turf at its feet. “Wall Street Bear” is wrapped in U.S. Treasury bills and stands on a carpet of glittering coins. The buttons on his jacket are made from dimes, and he carries The Wall Street Journal to read the latest lowdown on the market.
During the pandemic, decorating the bears was only a small part of Drucker’s ongoing creative life. Thinking of new ways to involve the community
amid the extended lockdown, she placed buckets of river rocks in front of her home, inviting passersby to select rocks, paint their emotions on them and distribute the finished rocks throughout Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.
A resident of Los Altos Hills for 45 years, Druker is a mainstay on the local arts scene. In addition to making art, she spearheaded formation of the Los Altos Hills Public Art Committee and served as town art curator. She currently curates art at the Los Altos main library.
For more information on the Los Altos Bears project, visit losaltosbears.com.