Saturday, July 29, 2000

Pig Parade: Sownd Investor

Paint-by-numbers pig took twist

By Owen Findsen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This is 91st in a series spotlighting pigs from the Big Pig Gig Public Art Project taking place in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Find past pig profiles at

        Merle Rosen submitted seven designs to the Big Pig Gig but none was picked. “So I threw away all my designs and notes. Then, through a misunderstanding, I got picked.”

[photo] | ZOOM |
        Ms. Rosen, 51, Mount Auburn, had designed a “Divination Pig,” covered with numbers. “It was my simplest design. They thought it was called "Division Pig,' but that was OK, the idea still worked.”

        An art teacher and painter in Cincinnati for more than 30 years, Ms. Rosen is known for her whimsical paintings of colorful, fluid and fanciful figures, such as those in her murals at Petersens Restaurant, Seventh and Elm streets, downtown.

        Sponsor: Ohio National Financial Services.

        This pig's pen: Fountain Square.

        What's the pig idea? It started out as a pig covered in numbers, but the sponsor asked me to add people. I was delighted. Now it is covered with business people carrying briefcases, very busy, dancing, running, talking to each other in the language of Wall Street.

        You want people to look at this pig and think: People only look at these pigs for a few minutes, so they'll never see all the little things I put in there. There are things only I will ever know are there.

        Completing the project took: I got the pig late and the deadline was close, so I only had a few weeks to do it. The sponsor wanted it to have wings, but there was no time, so I painted wings on it.

        What's the matter? Golden acrylic paints and automobile clear coat. I didn't want to put anything on the pig that could be broken off.

        Your high on the hog was: Solving the problems of painting on this irregular, undulating surface. It was very challenging.

        Pig peeve: The pig became my world. I was eating, sleeping, dreaming about the pig, until I got discouraged with it. But I took a few days off to go to San Francisco, and when I got back and saw the pig, I liked what I did. It did what the sponsor wanted it to do and it did what I wanted it to do.

        Best pig tale: They keep moving my pig. It's always on Fountain Square, but because it doesn't have any fragile additions, they keep moving it as other pigs are installed. People keep calling me and telling me that my pig has moved.

        What artistic movement most affected the outcome of this pig? This is the way I have worked for over 30 years. I don't just put on paint. I work in layers. I paint it and I glaze it, I paint it and I glaze it, over and over, so the surface and texture are the results of many layers of paint.

        The materials cost: $200 for paint, $125 for priming and clear coating.


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- Pig Parade: Sownd Investor
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