Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Pig Parade: When Pigs Fly

Don't try to eat this carved ham

By Owen Findsen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

| ZOOM |
        This is 143rd in a series spotlighting pigs from the Big Pig Gig Public Art Project taking place in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Find past pig profiles at Cincinnati.com/bigpiggig

        Parrots at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden posed for the sculpture of their remote relative, the Swinoptera cincinnatus, a unique species found only in Cincinnati.

        Artist: David A. Oehler, 39, curator of birds, Cincinnati Zoo. Mr. Oehler did two of the bird sculptures at the bird house, so he thought doing the pig would be easy.

        Sponsor: Cincinnati Zoo.

        This pig's pen: Cincinnati Zoo, between the Administration Building and the Eagle Flight Cage.

        You were inspired by: When they came to me and asked me if I wanted to do it, I said it's going to be a bird.

        It's standing on a perch, a 90-pound log.

        What's the pig idea? The text on our signs.

        You want people to look at this pig and think: You couldn't put any animal in the zoo without an identifying sign, which identifies the range, diet, look and other information.

        Completing the project took: I told marketing I would get it done in a week. As it turned out it's an evolutionary process marked by a very long period of time.

        What's the matter? The difference in this pig, other than it has evolved into a bird, is that it is actually carved. You know ignorance is bliss, so I said “I think I'll carve this thing.” So it has textured feathers carved into the fiberglass.

        Your high on the hog was: I was working on it on the back dock of the bird house and families would come around and take pictures.

        Pig peeve: When I thought I was finished, the marketing people saw it and told me it needed a tail.

        Best pig tale: It's fun to watch people looking at it and then reading the sign and cracking up.

        My favorite pork dish: My wife makes a pork for pulled pork sandwiches. That's my favorite.

        What artistic movement most affected the outcome of this pig? We could go into paleontology. There is this big debate now whether birds are flying dinosaurs, so we're just throwing a new wrinkle into the mix.

        The materials cost: All I know is that they told me — too much.

        If your pig starred in a movie, who would you cast to play the role? We decided it would have to be portrayed by Jim Canary, or is it Carrey?


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