Art of Smokey Bear

Aug 11, 2014

Credit Rudy Wendelin, Trees Give Us Many Things, National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Virginia Department of Forestry celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and fans of the forests will mark the 70th birthday of the best known fire fighter – Smokey Bear. 

Since he was introduced to the American public 70 years ago, Smokey’s been portrayed by a number of artists, but it was a Virginia painter, Rudy Wendelin, who made this bear the icon he is today.

“He made him more human, he has fingers, he smiles, he wears blue jeans, he has a shovel, and as we say, a little less bear-like.”

That’s Susan Leidy, Deputy Director of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, where 19 Wendelin paintings will be on public display for the first time, along with a collection of Smokey memorabilia.  The show opens Saturday, August 9th.

“We’re going to have a birthday cake at one o’clock. Of course, no candles.  We’ll have family activities.  Smokey, of course, will be there.”

The show will be up at the Chrysler Museum until February first , at which time it may travel to other parts of the state.

Credit Rudy Wendelin, Why? National Agricultural Library, US Department of Agriculture.