Wednesday, August 02, 2000

Pig snub

Hog art moved out of N.Ky.

        Pigs take after their owners, you know. Cincinnati being a cliquish city, some are naturally hesitant to set hoof in Kentucky.

        No doubt they're afraid of being stranded without a good mall, being force-fed country music or painted UK blue.

        As a Northern Kentucky resident, I'm here to set the record straight. We have a perfectly nice Dillard's in Kenton County.

        Nevertheless, pigs are disappearing. As part of the Big Pig Gig, Kentucky was supposed to get 81 of the 400 fiberglass porkers. But the latest map from ArtWorks shows only 58 in our fair cities.

        What's up with that?

        The people at ArtWorks won't say, exactly.

        “We really haven't been tracking it that way,” says Betsy Neyer, marketing director for the pig gig. “I know the river is a big barrier to a lot of people, but to us it's a community project. We're placing pigs where we know they will be safe and visible.”

        To some people, that means “not in Kentucky.” I called around. Artists and sponsors gave various reasons for requesting relocation.

        After a week in Covington's MainStrasse district, a pig called “Leader-Hogen Cincinnati” was moved to Lytle Park.

        The people who contributed to its cost were all from Cincinnati and wanted it nearby, the artist told me.

        The wonderfully surreal “Pig Dreams I” occupied a lonely spot at 12th and Scott streets in Covington for two weeks. Bryan Joiner, one of five African-American artists in the gig, wondered whether the location was some sort of punishment.

        His sponsor, Acme Construction Services, complained to ArtWorks, which moved the pig to Lytle Park the next day.

        By far the noisiest exit was made by “Eugene, the Industrial Revolutionary Pig,” sponsored by the law firm of Monnie & O'Connor.

        “When Eugene learned he would be relegated to the unsafe corner of Eighth and Madison in Covington, he ran away and has become the "ham on the lam,'” lawyer Terry Monnie wrote to the Enquirer.

        Covington's mayor took offense, and Mr. Monnie has since backed off his assessment of the city. From Aug. 7-12, Eugene will even be dining at the Metropolitan Club in Covington.

        Then there's “Country Ham” and “Wake Up and Smell the Bacon,” both by Hyde Park artist Lynn Rose.

        Ms. Rose jokes about her Kentucky phobia. She sometimes ventures across what she calls “the Brooklyn Bridge” to visit a friend's Covington restaurant, but she never goes any further.

        The lay of the land confuses her. She feels like Alice in the rabbit hole. “If I go across the bridge, I pray that I'll get back,” she jokes.

        Ms. Rose's pigs, originally destined for Covington, were moved to Cincinnati after she requested a “safer” location. “Country Ham” carries a real guitar, and Ms. Rose couldn't afford to replace it.

        “I was a little nervous about Country Ham being in Kentucky and the guitar being stolen,” she says. “I just thought it was country western, and Kentucky is more south. I thought, "Maybe there'd be more music lovers.'”

        She laughs as she says this. We both know it sounds silly. We also know she's not alone in her misconceptions about Kentucky.

        Come on over for a visit, everybody, and bring your pigs. We're fresh out of blue paint, anyway.

        Karen Samples is The Enquirer's Kentucky columnist. Her column appears on Sundays and Thursdays in The Kentucky Enquirer. She can be reached at 578-5584 or email her at