The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Bulldogs of Bedford 

For updates on the project, artist information, photos of the bulldogs and a map of bulldog locations, visit or  

Painted pooches
Bulldog sculptures pop up in Bedford

By Angie Sykeny

 A unique community art initiative is bringing some color to Bedford in the form of 60-inch fiberglass bulldogs painted by local artists. 

“Bulldogs of Bedford” was conceived last year as a way to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Bedford High School, which has a bulldog as its mascot. The plan is to install custom painted bulldog sculptures at 10 businesses in town and keep them on display for at least three years.  
Jessica Gilcreast, a librarian at the school and a member of the committee formed last year to celebrate the school’s anniversary, was inspired by public art projects like CowParade, which features painted fiberglass cow sculptures in cities around the world, and Nashua Street Pianos, which brought painted pianos to Nashua’s Main Street. 
“I thought it’d be something fun to bring to Bedford, and a nice, unifying project that everyone is able to be a part of and benefit from,” Gilcreast said. “It brings everyone together — businesses, artists and the school district — to celebrate art in the community.” 
Last spring, the project acquired the necessary permissions from the town and secured a company based in Chicago to produce the white fiberglass bulldogs. Then, Gilcreast reached out to the local arts community and posted on social media, inviting artists to volunteer their talents. 
“You’ll find that many artists are up for the challenge of taking on a new project or a new medium,” she said. “Painting a 60-inch bulldog is something they’ve more than likely never done before and never will do again. It’s something different and a very unique canvas for the artists to express themselves.” 
One artist who answered the call is Kara LaMarche of Bedford. LaMarche, who does mostly acrylic abstract paintings, worked at the Bedford paint-and-sip studio Canvas Roadshow for four years before recently striking out on her own to create custom art for businesses and individuals. When she saw a post about the bulldog project on Facebook, she knew immediately that she wanted to contribute.
“I raised my hand high to be involved,” she said. “Bedford is a wonderful town, but public art is something we didn’t have here. As an artist, I feel like public art is important to have in any community, so I thought the bulldogs was a fantastic idea.” 
LaMarche painted two bulldogs for the project. “Rosie,” which sits outside The Wholistic Pet & Equine Center (341 Route 101), has a nature theme with painted mountains, a sun, a sunflower, a butterfly and a rose vine. “Harley,” found outside Copper Door Restaurant (15 Leavy Drive), is a motorcycle-themed dog, complete with painted flames, goggles and a Harley-Davidson vest. 
A third bulldog is currently on view outside the Bedford Public Library (3 Meetinghouse Road), and others will soon be unveiled, including a fruits-and-vegetables bulldog at Whole Foods Market (121 S. River Road) and a doctor bulldog at Bedford Animal Hospital. Additionally, the project produced a number of smaller, 28-inch tabletop dogs painted by Bedford High School art students, which were purchased for private residences and for local businesses, including a donuts-covered bulldog at Dunkin’ Donuts (3 Leavy Drive) and a tie-dye “peace, love, tacos” bulldog at Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse (206 Route 101). 
Two of the large dogs are still available for purchase by Bedford businesses. Each business that agrees to buy a bulldog works with the artist to create a design that represents them as a business, and that they think the public will enjoy. 
“The business gives their vision to the artist, and the artist takes it and runs with it,” Gilcreast said.
LaMarche said it took her about two months to complete her two assigned bulldogs and that the process had its challenges. For one, the kind of paint used for the sculptures is very fast-drying, which means the artists have to work quickly or else the paint will dry on the paintbrush. Painting the difficult-to-reach areas of the bulldog also required some creativity. 
“The only way to get under the dog to paint it was to have its giant paw resting on my chest. Several of my shirts are completely ruined from that particular endeavor,” LaMarche said. “It was really fun to paint on this strange and hilarious structure, but it created a lot of challenges, for sure.” 
One of the most rewarding things about the project, Gilcreast said, is seeing people in town enjoying the sculptures. 
“The dogs are large enough to sit on, so a lot of people stop to look and sit on them and take pictures with them and post the pictures to Facebook,” she said. “It’s been so much fun to see how the dogs have their own little following on social media now.” 

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