Thursday, August 03, 2000

Pig Parade: Covington Retriever

This hog walks on paws of a dog

By Owen Findsen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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        This is 97th 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

        Where pigs once roamed on the streets of our city, there are dogs. The thought occurred to Wolfgang Ritschel as he was searching for ideas for his pig.

        “The city is more civilized now, so we have dogs instead of pigs in the streets. I remembered a dog I once had, a golden German shepherd named Rex. He was the inspiration for my pig.”

        Artist: Dr. Ritschel, 67, of Clifton, is retired from the faculties of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and the College of Pharmacy. “Now I am doing what I first studied,” he said. “I am a painter.”

        He works daily in his studio in the Pendleton Art Center. His work has been shown at the Fitton Center for the Arts in Hamilton and the Carnegie in Covington. He will have a solo exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Center in his native Vienna in September. His Web site, which includes a picture of his pig, is

        Sponsor: Friends of Covington/Cincinnati Bell.

        This pig's pen: Howard Park, 11th Street and Scott Boulevard, Covington.

        What's the pig idea? The sponsors saw my designs and they came to discuss a new idea. I saw the cows in Zurich and in Chicago, and there was so much vandalism that I talked the sponsors out of putting too much extra on the pig. It just has a stick in its mouth that's really a steel rod sculpted to look like a branch.

        Completing the project took: Three weeks.

        What's the matter?: Acrylics.

        Your high on the hog was: The gray pig I got looked like something from a slaughterhouse. But it took on life as I painted it. I changed the nose and gave it paws like a dog and a bandana around its neck.

        Pig peeve: I am one of those artists who did everything myself. There were three eight-hour days of sanding alone.

        Best pig tale: I love the location. The people who live nearby love the pig, and they are so appreciative that they weren't forgotten by the Big Pig Gig. They even have set up a pig watch to protect it.

        My favorite pork dish: Marzipan pig.

        What artistic movement most affected the outcome of this pig? People say the bandana that the pig is wearing is in the style of my Expressionist landscapes.

        What do you call this pig: I didn't give it a name, but I talked to it while I was making it. I didn't want to give it away.

        The materials cost: $300.


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