Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Pig Parade: Wonderful Wilbur

Book character a pearl of a swine

By Owen Findsen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Wonderful Wilbur
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        This is 122nd in a series spotlighting pigs from the Big Pig Gig Public Art Project taking place in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Find past pig profiles and event details at Cincinnati.com/bigpiggig.

        Michelle Schuler was in the midst of creating her pig when she realized it was Wonderful Wilbur, an endearing pig in the children's book Charlotte's Web. “He didn't have a name at first, but while I was working on him, he looked so happy, I knew he had to be Wonderful Wilbur.”

        Ms. Schuler, 25, of Hyde Park. paints and creates decorative furniture in her Newport studio. Her paintings have been shown at The Carnegie in Covington.

        Sponsor: Bob and Sandy Heiman.

        This pig's pen: Western Southern Park, Fourth Street, downtown.

        You were inspired by: I was working at a pre-school and I loved working with the children and telling them stories. I wanted the pig to be something the children would love.

        You want people to look at this pig and think: People who are touring the pigs spot him and say “That's Wilbur,” even before they see the title.

        What's the matter?: There are pearls on his nose, sequins on his vest, a band of rhinestones, sea beads on his ears.

        Your high on the hog was: People know who he is without looking. They just see him and say, “That's Wilbur.” People are hugging it. You can't hug a painting, you know.

        Pig peeve: Gluing the pearls on his nose. My hands got so sticky with the glue I was holding the pearls in my teeth and trying to drop them in the right place.

        Best pig tale: I go down to the park every few days to see if he's OK, and to replace any pearls or rhinestones that might fall off. The first time I went, there was a spider sitting on a pearl on his nose, just like Charlotte. That's when he came alive for me.

        My favorite pork dish: Bacon and scrambled eggs, and sausage, pigs in a blanket, goetta.

        What artistic movement most affected the outcome of this pig? Textile design. I love to study the history of textiles.

        The materials cost: $850 or $900. I spent almost all that I was paid. Do you consider this art or porkography? It must be porkography because they gave me money to do it. I never get money for my art.

        If your pig starred in a movie, who would you cast to play the role? Wilbur, or if he's not available, Babe.


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