Montessori School of Ojai


Ojai Valley News

Each class of Montessori School of Ojai students, from toddlers to teens, recently took turns watching local artist, Dennis Shives, create a grizzly bear out of a large pile of fill sand delivered from former MSO student, Greg Webster, of Greg Rents. Shives, born and raised in Ojai, also created the lion’s head in Libbey Park and the bear sculpture at the Ojai Museum among other pieces displayed throughout the valley. At Montessori, Shives showed several of the older students how to use his handmade tools to make bear claws and sand fur. Dennis circled the sand pile barefooted, carving and patting the sand with a shovel until the sleeping grizzly bear emerged from the ground. “I wait and see where the sand falls out of the truck and then the subject comes to me,” Shives explained to the children, who’d asked how he decided to make it into a grizzly bear. Of course, Shives had just been telling the students about how in the valley’s early history, Ojai was full of grizzly bears who fished for wild salmon all along the Ventura river bottom near the MSO campus. Perhaps, the spirit of the grizzly bears of old influenced Shives while he worked diligently and quietly answered the students’ eager questions. Amazingly, although the bear sand sculpture lay within the primary playground equipment on the elementary side of the campus, and many childish hands ached to touch the grooved ‘fur’ of the sand bear or dance on his back, the ‘sacred’ Montessori bear survived throughout the week unscathed.