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Paula Zima: Tuquski’ Wa Suwa (Bear and Child),
Mission Square, San Luis Obispo, California
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San Luis Obispo is located on California’s Pacific coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Like many Californian towns it has an old Spanish mission, and close to the mission house is a fountain pool featuring three bronze statues by Paula Zima which work together as an ensemble, though they were conceived separately. Tuquski’ Wa Suwa (Bear and Child) (1988) depicts a bear fishing alongside a child; Qiqsmu (Life) (2003) comprises a pair of bear cubs at play; and Yach Ka (Steelhead Trout) (2005) depicts the fish the bear is presumably trying to catch. The loinclothed child and fishing bear could almost be Mowgli and Baloo, or Pyrénée and Grosse Bête, though in fact they’re meant to represent a girl of the native Chumash people and a brown bear. Note the triangular cutouts in the girl’s hair and the bear’s fur, reflecting the geometric designs favoured by Native American artists.
All photos on this page were taken by Lee M in June 2011, and may be reproduced for non-commercial use under GFDL. The photo at top left shows the statue’s location, close to the 1772 mission house. I think my personal favourite is the one with the backpacker, who seems completely oblivious to the fact that he’s sitting in a similar pose to the girl (and being photographed).