A Mom Pursuing Her Passion
For years, Andrea Bear poured herself into her family as a devoted wife and mother. She supported her husband, Brian, as he became an orthopedic surgeon, following him from New York to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and eventually to Rockford, where they’ve lived for the past 26 years. Their three children, Benji, Lauren and Emily, have all grown into kind and successful young adults. Benji is a software development engineer at YouTube, Lauren is a consulting analyst at Accenture, and Emily is a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning musical artist.
Now, as she finds herself in an empty-nester phase of life, Bear is putting the spotlight back on her own dreams. Last January, she launched Andrea Bear Fine Art Photography, and already her work is sought after by private collectors, galleries and designers.
“I have a friend who made a mid-life career shift to follow her passion,” Bear says. “And then, I happened to attend a book reading, and the woman had just started writing books when she was 60. Now, she’s published and working on her third novel. It’s just very inspiring to me.
“I spent all my years supporting my husband with his career and my children with their development. I see potential in people, whether it’s a gift or a talent, and I’m very good at getting them to where they want to be. But I don’t usually turn that attention to myself,” Bear adds.
Bear isn’t exactly new to photography. At 8 years old, shortly after her father gifted her with her first camera, Bear took a photo that wound up on the front cover of a magazine. Throughout the years, photography has always been a passion.
Now, her artwork is available for purchase in stores and online. Her mediums include acrylic, metal, canvas and fine art framed prints.
“I basically see everything in photos just walking down the street,” she says. “When I see the tree in front of my house, I frame it in my mind. It could be a flower, or a person, or it could be a corner of something. It just has to speak to me. So, photography becomes my voice.”
After years of focusing on everybody else, Bear admits it was a hard leap for her to focus on herself.
But she also teaches her children there’s something new to learn every day.
“Until I’m not on this planet, I’m still learning and creating new skills,” Bear says. “And it brings me such joy to capture these images and even more now to share them.”
Source: “25 Most Interesting People.” Northwest Quarterly. The Annual 2023, page 87.
Articles in this series are by various writers: Chris Linden, Lindsey Lukas, Jim Taylor, Steven Bonifazi, Paul Anthony Arco, Stephanie N. Grimoldby, Paula Hendrickson, and Jermaine Pigee.
Photography by Samantha Behling.