FAYETTEVILLE — The central figure in the Ozark Literacy Council’s ongoing PIGShibition community art project and fundraiser was revealed during a preview party at Ella’s restaurant Thursday night (June 14).
Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan and Marilyn Heifner, executive director of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission, pulled back the covers for a glimpse of what will soon be the city’s most prolific art fixture: a chalky white pig about six feet tall.
The whimsical sculpture and about two dozen more like it were created by local sculptor Mike Davis Gutierrez and will be displayed around the city this summer. Businesses and individuals have been asked to sponsor them. It’s now up to a select group of local artists to uniquely design and paint each pig. Many of the artists took their pigs home after the June 14 PIGmalion Preview party so they could get started.
The whole affair will take place much in the fashion of the popular 1999 Chicago Cows on Parade art exhibit. The local project will culminate with the Piggies Go To Market gala, scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Fayetteville Town Center. At the market, the pigs will be auctioned to the highest bidders.
“We did this because we wanted a platform to talk about literacy,” said Wendy Jo Poole, executive director of the Ozark Literacy Council. “One out of five people in Arkansas reads below a fifth-grade level, and we’re here to change that.” At 48 years, the Fayetteville-based Ozark Literacy Council is the largest and oldest nonprofit literacy council in the state. Last year, the council provided 11,000 hours of instruction to 220 students.
The group chose Fayetteville for its quirky art project, said Poole, because it has strong support from both the city and its artistic community.
“Where else would you do this?” she said.
Companies and individuals with PIGShibition sponsorships include Tyson Foods Inc., the Inn at Carnall Hall, Downstream Casino Resort, Cox Communications, Mermaids restaurant, Arvest Bank, Dr. Hershey and Denise Garner and Frank and Gen Broyles.