Bear on the Square Stays True to Its Roots

by Grant Searcey
Grant Searcey Artwork
April 9, 2015

Bear on the Square, an authentic Appalachian Bluegrass Festival, is very unique in that it stays true to its roots.  

When I first moved to Dahlonega and applied for a booth at Bear on the Square to sell my artwork, I was rejected. I was told that my artwork was not "Appalachian enough" and that it wasn't congruent with the vision of the event.   My colorful paintings of sea horses, octopi and jellies had always been great sellers and were especially popular at the hundreds of art show events I had done on the West Coast.

Initially I was bummed about being denied a space at the show; however, after I observed the actual Bear on the Square event, I had a shift of perspective. It was a shift from disappointment to one of respect. The founders of Bear on the Square have always had a specific vision and they would rather stay true to that original vision of Appalachian Bluegrass and Folk roots rather than dilute it with other genres just to earn revenue.  

It's rare to witness this kind of authenticity in a world so often motivated by the almighty dollar.

In the three and a half years that I've lived here, my art career has grown tremendously. A large portion of the growth I've experienced is due to the support I get here at home in Dahlonega. I have a local group of really great collectors who come in all ages and from all walks of life. I still paint sea-life and creatures of whimsey, but now after being in Dahlonega, I can absolutely see some Appalachian influences in certain aspects of my artwork.

This is the third consecutive year I've donated an original bear-themed painting to the auction at Bear on the Square. The people in our community that organize this festival are people I have come to know and appreciate. Their emphasis on authenticity with this festival motivates me to donate the fruits of my labor. Continuing to build community while maintaining the traditions of something only our town has to offer is what sets Dahlonega apart from other communities in North Georgia.   Bear on the Square…I'm a fan.  

Grant Searcey Artwork is located inside of Canvas and Cork - Wine Tasting - Art Gallery and Studios - in downtown Dahlonega across from Hancock Park.  Visit to browse more of Mr. Searcey's artwork.

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