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News & Events

City of Southfield Arts Commission launches 'Free the Bear' public art fundraising campaign



Many fondly remember Northland Center: the shopping, the restaurants, and of course, the Marshall Fredericks' sculpture—The Boy and Bear. Fredericks wanted his larger-than-life art piece to be very public, reaching out to children, their parents and grandparents in a very human and playful way.  

When Northland Center closed, The Boy and Bear was slated for auction. The City of Southfield intervened to keep this important piece of history—and art—here in Southfield for the community to cherish for future generations. With your support, the legacy of this piece will continue.  

The Southfield Arts Commission has launched the Free the Bear development campaign to raise funds for the recently acquired art from the former Northland Center. The campaign includes both a public crowd funding component as well as corporate underwriting.   The Southfield Arts Commission has identified a permanent home for The Boy and Bear sculpture at the Southfield Public Library. The Library receives thousands of visitors per week, and Marshall Fredericks would have been pleased to know his work will continue reaching so many people each day.  This campaign to raise funds creates a final resting place for this great sculpture. Moreover, every contribution will help to establish a permanent fund for youth art programming, support local artists, and expand cultural opportunities in the city of Southfield.  

“I gave the bear big ears, big feet, and soft forms so he’d appeal to youngsters. I hope when children see him, they will imagine themselves riding on his back.” - Marshall Fredericks, The Detroit News, March 15, 1994

For Our Youth
Public support will assist in developing an art-specific fund for future generations in Southfield. The City is committed to developing and maintaining the great assets of the city by doing the following:
  • Creating education and outreach programs specific for our youth;
  • Encouraging expression through art at an early age;
  • Invigorating and developing public interest in the Arts;
  • Maintaining our existing artwork; and
  • Promoting diversity and global thinking.  
Crowd Funding
The Southfield Arts Commission (501(c)3 pending) launched a GoFundMe campaign to allow public donations with ease. The City will hold a VIP reception and unveiling of The Boy and Bear at the Library for donors on May 19. A public unveiling will take place on May 23.  

Silver Sponsor ($1,000)
  • Recognition in promotional unveiling magazine
  • Four (4) Tickets to Private Unveiling on May 19
  • Name on Commemorative Plaque in Library  
Elite Club ($250)
  • Recognition in promotional unveiling magazine
  • Two (2) Tickets for Private Unveiling on May 19  
Donor ($50)
  • One (1) Ticket for Private Unveiling on May 19  
Corporate Support
Presenting Sponsor ($50,000)
  • Marshall Fredericks Museum Field Trip Funding for Community Schools
  • Naming Rights for Exhibition and all Materials
  • Authentic Logo-Engraved Miniature the Boy and Bear Replica (Valued $15,000)
  • Eight (8) Packages of 'Art in Southfield' Notecards
  • Twelve (12) Tickets to Private Unveiling on May 19 with VIP Reception  
Titanium ($25,000)
  • Largest Name on Commemorative Plaque in Library
  • Recognition in promotional unveiling magazine
  • Individual plaque presented at dedication
  • Laser-Etched Limited Edition Bear in Library Crystal
  • Four (4) Packages of 'Art in Southfield' Notecards
  • Ten (10) Tickets to Private Unveiling on May 19
Platinum ($10,000)
  • Large Name on Commemorative Plaque in Library
  • Recognition in promotional unveiling magazine
  • Laser-Etched Limited Edition Bear in Library Crystal
  • 'Art in Southfield' Notecards
  • Eight (8) Tickets to Private Unveiling on May 19  
Gold ($5,000)
  • Name on Commemorative Plaque in Library
  • Recognition in promotional unveiling magazine
  • Individually Numbered Commemorative Framed Certificate
  • 'Art in Southfield' Notecards
  • Six (6) Tickets to Private Unveiling on May 19  
To donate, please send cash donations or checks (made payable to): City of Southfield, c/o Mayor’s Office, 26000 Evergreen Road, P.O. Box 2055, Southfield, MI 48037-2055; or visit www.gofundme.com/freethebear. Please indicate ‘Free the Bear’ on memo line for checks. The Southfield Public Library Leon Miller Trust Fund will match all donations raised up to $300,000.  

About the Northland Public Art Acquisition
The city of Southfield purchased the public art that was located at Northland Center for $500,000 in April 2015 as a loan from the City that will be recouped by the fundraising campaign. Of this amount, $300,000 was provided by the Southfield Public Library and the Friends of the Library. The acquisition included the iconic The Boy and Bear sculpture by the late Marshall Fredericks that had been on display at Northland since the mall’s opening in 1954. Fredericks was one of six artists commissioned by J.L. Hudson to design the sculpture for Northland Center in Southfield, Michigan.  At the time it opened in 1954, Northland was the country’s largest shopping center as well as the first regional shopping center. The Boy and Bear sculpture was carved in limestone and the boy is cast in bronze and is gold-plated. All of the art acquired from Northland has been safely removed and relocated to secure locations within the City’s Municipal Complex.  

About the Southfield Public Arts Commission
The Southfield Arts Commission was established in 2015 to advise the City Council on matters affecting public art in the city. The goal of this commission is to create a stimulating environment that reflects and enhances the City's heritage, diversity, and character through public artworks integrated in the architecture, infrastructure, and landscape.  

For more information, call the Mayor’s Office at (248) 796-5100.  

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2016 (Archive on Friday, May 20, 2016)
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