Photos courtesy of Art Rogers
Have you heard any good jokes lately? That’s not just a question of comical curiosity. It’s actually an inquiry about your mental and physical health. Physicians have wisely made the connection between a light-hearted attitude and a healthy heart regimen. In fact, even yoga, the current exercise trend — and centuries-old philosophical lesson plan — has a subset called Laughter Yoga.
Folks are encouraged to set aside 15 minutes a day to release a big, gut-busting belly laugh. Loud, infectious, sincere laughter releases a greater flow of oxygen to the brain. It provides more energy, a better frame of mind — which leads to more motivation — and it cements a positive mind-set. Laughing alleviates stress; it strengthens the immune system; it puts people on the path to a better and higher-quality life. So, what does this have to do with Teddies?
Look around your collection and find one that makes you smile. Consider that your Yoga Bear (apologies to Yogi) and remember how happy you were when you first purchased it. Let that collection underscore your mood and feel joyful about your choices. To help you with this Ursine Yoga Laughing, I am proudly presenting the work of Art Rogers. When I think about teddy bears that tickle the funny bone, I instantly think of this artist’s quirky and cutting-edge style.
A teddy bear artist for nearly 20 years, Art lives in the Florida Keys and weaves his magic under the banner of Chatham Village Bears. He acknowledges that his creations have unique appearances, beginning with their very big eyes. (If eyes are windows to the soul, then Art’s eyes must be some kind of supersized glance into his creative energy, heart, mind, sense of humor, and soul. The eyes are so huge, they’re not just windows — they are mansion-like glass houses!)
In 1997, after making his first bear, Art Rogers was hooked. His arsenal of rollicking bears (and tons of other critters and breeds) is the best weapon against a gloomy day. If you don’t own an Art Rogers design, then here are some of his photos to help elevate your mood and to get your guffawing going in the right direction.
When I interviewed him a little while back, he displayed his charm and his promised commitment to making his collectors laugh. Living in the Florida Keys, he’s like the Jimmy Buffett of the bear world. “Parrotheads” can’t get enough of their man, Jimmy, and arctophiles feel the same way about the art of Art!
“I make animals and dolls to fulfill my main desire — which is to make collectors happy. That’s what it is all about,” he shared with me. “All of my whimsical designs are created to make collectors smile. I think I have succeeded with that.”
An eagerly awaited invitee at teddy bear shows around the globe, Art brings his universal good humor wherever he goes: “There is a satisfaction in seeing the look on collectors’ faces as they approach a table full of Chatham Village Bears and animals. I can tell that they are happy to see my work. I confess that I am happy, too, when my work is created. It is so cool when a bear or an animal looks back at me when it is completed. If it makes me smile, I am confident that it will make my collectors smile as well.”
When Art was a young boy growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, he received a gift that helped give him that empathy and understanding of the power of plush pals. “For Christmas, I got a Fred Flintstone stuffed doll, with a plastic face, and he became a friend and a companion. He made me smile.”
Since those early days, Art has never stopped smiling and laughing when it comes to unleashing his art. After a lifetime as an art conservationist at a museum, his time is now his own. Retired from his museum career, his animal artwork is now paramount to his sense of well-being.
Art Rogers can make teddy bear aficionados smile and laugh out loud because they come from that same place in his soul. Born of good humor, they live up to their purpose in life.
Go ahead; look at one; it will make your day. And make your resulting giggle a great big Yoga Laugh.