story by Rhonda Crone, special to The City Wire
On March 14, 11 of the colorful painted pigs seen all over Fayetteville since June 2012 will go up for auction when the Ozark Literacy Council’s PIGShibition project presents Piggies Go to Market at the Fayetteville Town Center.
The event will begin at 6 p.m.
Executive Director Wendy Poole says she got the idea for statues of painted pigs from Tracy Beckers, co-chair, who was involved with a similar project in Chicago-with cows.
Along with Beckers, co-chair Clarris Goodwin and Don Moore, Poole launched a year-long project that has now raised over $100,000 through sponsorships of the 25 pigs.
This first PIGShibition event was designed to draw awareness to literacy issues and promote local artists, and although it probably won’t be the exact same event, “Stay tuned to PIGShibition there may be a similar project in the future,” said Poole.
The now-famous pigs began as one clay sculpture created by artist Mike Davis Gutierrez. From that, Glynn Samuels of Madison County made fiberglass molds – 25 of them.
Then 150 local artists submitted designs, but only 25 of them got the honor of painting a pig and a $500 stipend. Then, the pig scored a sponsor. There were three Grand Champion Sponsors who paid over $6,000 – Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion, Psychology & Counseling Associates and the Ozark Literacy Council. Seven businesses were Top Hog sponsors for $6,000, and 14 were $3,000 Blue Ribbon sponsors – non-profits who got to keep their sponsored pig.
So, after a year on display all over the area, these famous pigs will either stay with their non-profit sponsors or go to their rightful owners. The 11 up for auction are:
• “When Pigs Fly,”
• “Ferdinand the Bull (Pig),”
• “Pig Up and Book and Read,”
• “Penny the Pop Art Piggy,”
• “Sweet Pea,”
• “Pig Spender,”
• “Road Hawg,” and,
• “The Reader.”
The PIGShibition website includes a Pigtrail map and list of sponsors.
In addition to the auction, there will be live music by Loose Change, a silent auction, and local food beer and wine at the Town Center on Thursday night. Tickets are still available, $50 in advance and $60 at the door.
“In NWA, one of 11 people read below fifth grade level,” said Poole. “This was more a PR move than a money maker.”