Sunday, April 01, 2001

Spring may bring Pigs back

Six months after the Big Pig Gig, we catch up with the beloved porkers

By Jackie Penco
Enquirer contributor

Spirit of Pigcinnati will be on permanent display at the airport.
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        For seven months last year, Cincinnati, Covington and Newport became a giant pigpen as everyone wallowed in the whimsical Big Pig Gig. The porkers rooted their way into the hearts of Greater Cincinnatians everywhere, so when the gig was over and the pigs were auctioned off for charity, we bid them a fond farewell with more than a little trepidation.

        What would happen to them? Where would they go?

        “Like dandelions, pigs will be popping up everywhere as the weather warms and the pigs come out of cold storage,” predicts Tamara Harkavy, six months after the end of the outdoor art project. Ms. Harkavy is executive director of ArtWorks, the primary organizer of the Pig Gig.

        She knows the whereabouts of some pigs and is sworn to secrecy about others. She just doesn't know what's happened to them all.

        Here's what she does know: Of the 425 large fiberglass pigs, 174 of them are staying right here.

Big Pig Gig
        And 54 pigs have gone to 17 different states, including Nevada, Illinois (15 to one bidder in Chicago), California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine with side trips to South Carolina and Germany.

        Here are a few of their stories.

Pig Rescue Lady

        Terry Wheeland, a longtime Pennsylvania resident, is serious about pigs. She runs a self-funded, private rescue service for unwanted pot-bellied pigs in a little town outside of Harrisburg.

AHIMSA is on display in Harrisburg, Pa.
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        She shares her 20-acre farm with 38 pigs, some horses, dogs and chickens. Most of the pigs live outdoors, but Terry keeps two as indoor pets. (One of her pot-bellies sits on the couch and watches TV with her.)

        “I went out to see the pigs, and I just knew one had to be here,” Ms. Wheeland says.

        She set her sights on Mary Ann Lederer's AHIMSA, the vegetarian pig, and scraped together funds for a successful Internet bid.

        To save shipping costs, she drove her truck here to collect her prize. That's when Ms. Wheeland met Ms. Lederer.

        “I felt like a birth mother,” Ms. Lederer says. “I had three babies (pigs), and I wanted to make sure that they were being fed properly and everything was clean and neat.”

        AHIMSA must be in intelligent company with her new cousins in Pennsylvania, because Ms. Wheeland says, “Most pigs are smarter than the people that own them.”

Retiring to Florida

        Sparkling Swine might have landed on the nicest spot: Naples, Fla. The “mirror-encrusted pig” was purchased by a Cincinnati resident for his parents who live there.

        Artist Matt Kotlarczyk says he is living vicariously through his pig as it sits on a waterway. “I think it would be a cool thing to see the sun sparkling on the pig and watching all the boats going by.”

        Joining Sparkling Swine in Florida is Eden Pork, who will take up residence in a tony condominium complex in Boca Raton.

Sow von Carpenter
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Luck be a lady

               Sow von Carpenter has gone to Las Vegas. Sam Panice, vice president and general manager of Czarnowsky Display Services in Las Vegas, saw the national news stories about the Big Pig Gig and was intrigued. (The company is owned by a former Cincinnatian).

        Mr. Panice followed the progression of the exhibit and was ready to log on eBay when the online auction began. “It was fast and furious,” he says.

        “Sow” is in storage at a Vegas warehouse awaiting completion of the trade show display company's new facility in June.

Piggies go to market

        Five porkers became goodwill ambassadors at a holiday market in Munich, Germany. Two of them ended up staying.

        Albert Swinestein, Cam Ham, Pigtisse and two blank pigs were accompanied by six Cincinnati artists.

        It was a cross-cultural exchange as Cincinnati artists and their German counterparts decorated the pigs.

        “It really was just too much fun. Everyone just loved the pigs,” says Ute Papke, coordinator for the Munich and Cincinnati Sister City Association, said.

        The freshly decorated porkers were auctioned and raised 10,000 marks (about $5,000) for a children's charity.

Anchors away

        One pig might get to see the world, according to its creator, Sycamore Township artist Judy Anderson.

        Her Pigasso is a surprise wedding gift from Dr. Kenneth Foon to his daughter, Melissa, who is a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy and loves all things Picasso.

        Dr. Foon said when his daughter came home last summer with her fiance, she fell in love with the pigs. “She told me that no matter where they go, it will always be sitting in the middle of their living room.”

        The newlyweds and the pig will be moving to Norfolk, Va., for their first posting after the honeymoon.

Little piggy stayed home

        Ted Bushelman, communications manager for the Greater Cincinnati - Northern Kentucky International Airport, lost his pig, the Spirit of Pigcinnati to a last-minute bid. (Spirit is Pat Renick's winged creation for the Contemporary Arts Center.)

        The airport authority had to stop when the bid went $100 over what they could legally spend.

        Luckily for the airport, the winning bidder found that Spirit could not be displayed outdoors and offered to sell it back to the airport for their last bid.

        Mr. Bushelman says Spirit was refurbished by Ms. Renick and will be on permanent revolving display at the airport.

        The gig doesn't stop there. Mr. Bushelman liked the porkers so much that he procured a pig for himself. Kathy Sabato's Mr. Chops has found a new home on the front porch of the Bushelman residence, formerly the caretaker's house at the Lawrenceburg, Ind., fairgrounds.

        Artist Jan Ross, creator of Animal House, may have summed it up best: “Amazing where these porkers are ending up!”

        ; • Number of Pigs exhibited: 425 big; 300 small
        • On display: June-October 2000
        • Big pigs weigh: 45 pounds
        • Music Hall auction: Nov. 13, 2000
        • Number of people attending: 2,000
        • eBay auction: Nov. 1-8, 2000
        • Number of pigs sold on eBay: 169
        • Number of Web hits on eBay pigs: 30 million
        • Money raised for charity: $859,000
        • Proceeds for Artworks: $400,000
        • Pigs kept by sponsors: 183
        • Photos received at Artworks from new owners: 20


        Here is a partial list of companies and organizations that kept the pigs they sponsored.
        American Airlines, Ashland, Bigg's Eastgate Hypermarket, Boris Litwin Jewelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Children's Hospital Medical Center, city of Newport, Coney Island, Discovery Channel.
        GE Aircraft Engines, Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, Haute Chocolate, Jake Sweeney Automotive, Jungle Jim's Market, JTM Food Group, LaRosa's, Milacron, Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau.
        Pepsi-Cola, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Remke Markets, Richter & Phillips Jewelers, Ryland Homes, the Drees Co., Honeybaked Ham Co., Tide, Hillshire Farm & Kahn's Co.


        Hey, pig owners. Beaufort, S.C., wants to borrow your porker for the summer.
        Last summer the Beaufort Arts Council played host to 28 of Chicago's cows. “Cows on Vacation” was such a success, they have contacted ArtWorks and asked for 30-40 guest pigs.
        The council will handle the pick up, delivery, insurance and safe return of the pigs. To volunteer yours, call Amanda Hogan at ArtWorks, (513) 333-0388.

        Here's what is left of the Big Pig Gig paraphernalia:
        Books, shirt with logo ($15; S-XL limited sizes), T-shirt with Pig Rose and Road Hog ($15; S-XL limited sizes), oinker noisemakers ($5), handcrafted ornaments/sun catchers ($15), hats ($10).


        • Hamlich Maneuver
        • Wake and Smell the Bacon
        • Austin Sowers


        Undecorated pigs still can be purchased. Prices are $225 for small pigs; $l,500 for big, sitting or walking pigs; $l,600 for standing pigs. Contact Amanda Hogan at ArtWorks, 513333-0388, to place an order.


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