Pigs on Parade: Pigmalion, Pigasso, even a Disco Pig

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The Pike Place Market people want to reap what they sow.

That's sow, as in pig, as in swine, as in Rachel.

And how you feel about Jennifer Aniston is your own business. The Rachel in question is the bronze pig near the Fish Throwers. She'll be cloned, decorated by lots of artists and sponsored for "Pigs on Parade."

Apart from being a test of self-restraint for newspaper writers, Pigs on Parade is a benefit for the Pike Place Market Foundation that aims to collect a million bucks for services that include helping the needy and the elderly, as well as historic preservation.

The idea, says Market Foundation executive director Marlys Erickson, came from other cities such as Zurich and Chicago, which raised money with fiberglass cows, and Toronto, which used moose. Is there something inherently more appealing about a pig?

"I think she's cuter," Erickson says.

Here's how it works:

More than 120 artists had submitted proposals by last week's deadline for adorning the reproductions of Rachel. A "Pigasso" covered with Picasso-like artwork. A "Hog Wild" pig covered with tattoos. A "Pigmalion." You get the idea.

Corporations or individuals sign up to sponsor a pig at various financial levels, and can even pick the artists they like. Then on May 26, there will be a porcine procession of the hogs on wheels (which was never a Peter Fonda biker flick) from the Market to Westlake Center, where they'll be on display in a pen for several days. (A "demo pig" named April Showers had already been placed at Westlake, but was destroyed by New Year's revelers. See a photo of her at the event's Web site, www.pigsonparade.org.)

After that, about 200 decorated pigs will be placed on street corners all over the downtown area atop large concrete slabs until September. The following month, these pigs go on the block - auction, not butcher - to rut out more money for charity. That's right: Someday you could have one in your living room.

Whidbey Island sculptor Georgia Gerber made the original Rachel, a bronze piggybank that since 1986 has brought in thousands of dollars each year for the Market Foundation. She's also generating Rachel's fiberglass clones, which at about $2,000 apiece come in standing or sitting models about 20 percent larger than the Hog Prime - nearly 6 feet long, Erickson says.

Rachel, herself, probably wouldn't have sat still for what Dave Hanoch is doing to her. "I wanted to do something that related to my own interests as an artist," says Hanoch, who holds a master's degree in painting and a day job doing window designs for Nordstrom. He's creating a "Disco Pig."

"I'm turning my pig into a giant mirror ball that's going to be suspended off the ceiling and function as a disco ball. I'm putting mirrored tiles on it," he explains.

Hanoch, 27, says he has always admired "silly public art," but nonetheless is taking this project seriously.

"To me, the mirror ball is an icon in a way. It represents the night life, it represents music, it represents a good time and celebration and trend and style and fashion, and all that kind of represents Nordstrom."

However any Nordstrom customer who just wants to buy a pair of pants might interpret that, Hanoch is enthusiastic.

"I've been given this strange canvas in a way. I mean, I've never made a disco ball before."