By Beniamino "Benny" Bufano 1898 - 1970

Photograph by Eric Carlson

Located in front of the Center for the Performing Arts. There is a plaque to the side of the bear proclaiming it to be a Brown Bear. Why then did Bufano make it white and in the recognizable shape of a Polar Bear?

When it comes to bears, details are important. They define a bear as much as the overall shape - i.e. brown shaggy fur, white fangs dripping with saliva, claws that go "clackity-clack," a wet black nose. By carving the "essence" of bearness, as Benny did, you carve away all those wonderful details. How about a statue of just the details and forget the essence?

As it turns out, Bufano sculpted a Polar Bear in addition to this faux polar bear.

Both of these bears are wonderful as "stand alone" bears. They would go great with my decor. I do think the resemblance to a Polar Bear is confusing. This bear looks like it belongs on a lettuce-green iceberg.

Bear Back
Faux Bear Close Up
Lawrence Ferlinghetti attacking Benny Bufano with his belly.

140 thousand pounds of Peace - Relocation of 140,000 lb Beniamino Bufano "Peace" Statue, San Francisco, CA. This is a link to the Sheedy Crane and Rigging Company.

The Center for the Performing Arts is rather funky too. It consists of rows of seats that stretch from one side of the building to the other with no aisles except on the extreme ends. If you are in the middle of a row and need to use the "facilities, you will have to walk over 75 peoples feet to get to the aisle - that's 150 feet. Also, the accoustics are described as unbearable.

On Benny Bufano - By Dave Hickey
An extraordinarily banal and successful artist and San Francisco character. Beloved and celebrated by Herb Caen, Bufano was a boulevardier-bon-vivant, adept at drawing quick and extensive publicity, and who also enjoyed a waif-like physical appearance of great charm and the child-like beauty of the very old.

He had a style that he imposed on all of his designs, keeping the structure distinctive, but smoothing out, thoroughly, every detail of sharp or rugged shape. All is sleek, slick, and phallic, as J.G. Ballard described Ronald Reagan (the circumcised) and Konrad Adenauer (the uncircumcised) in his wonderful little short story, Why I Want to F*ck Ronald Reagan, which everyone should read. Brancusi was the greater precursor sculptor for Bufano, who may be getting even beyond the trivia footnote at this point. Appropriately, San Jose would be grand and magnificently unstylish enough to acquire this piece.
Dave Hickey

The Center for the Performing Arts is the location of the annual San Jose Mariachi Festival. I have been to several Mariachi festivals - spend the extra money and get a seat close to the stage. If you cannot see the dancer's faces, you might as well be watching television.

Back to The Fox