Driving on S. River Road you may have noticed a curious onlooker in the front yard of a house in the 1300 block — a giant wood bear sculpture.
The smiling bear stands upright, approximately 10 feet tall, atop a tree stump, and was created by Eric Widitz of ArtWood Designs in Fox River Grove.
Alexandra “Sande” Kozlowski and her husband Norman Kozlowski had a bear sculpted out of their old tree last August, after they had to take the tree down due to disease, Norman said.
Sande said it was going to cost additional to have the stump removed, and the tree trimmer gave them the idea of having a sculpture made out of the rest.
Norman said it ended up costing them more to have the sculpture completed than it would have cost to remove the rest of the tree, but they were happy with the outcome.
Norman and Sande have lived in Des Plaines for 37 years, 35 years at their home on River Road, and, Norman said, when they moved in that tree was already big.
“I just didn’t want to get rid of the whole tree,” Norman said. “You got a tree for over 30 years, and sometimes you want to get rid of something, but then you don’t want to.”
Norman estimated it was 100 years old, since their house was built 94 years ago. He said since the sculpture was made, they have fielded hundreds of questions from neighbors, residents and media professionals.
“I wish more people in Des Plaines would do it,” Norman said. “Why wreck everything when you can turn it into something else? Now it’s like a landmark in Des Plaines!”