Outraged at Public Art Crime
Promised for Safe Return and Capture of Thief
"When we said that the Lowcountry was going to ham it up, we never imagined the theft or possible destruction of property," said Arts Council executive director Eric Holowacz. "That's just not an appropriate way to act, and whoever is responsible will probably end up regretting this pork-related prank."
It is a serious offense, and the Beaufort Police have classified the theft as grand larceny-ensuring that the human swine who stole the art swine will probably end up in the pokey as a convicted felon. Anyone with information about this theft should contact the Beaufort Police Department immediately.
Tamara Harkavy, executive director of ArtWorks, the producers of last summer's Big Pig Gig in Cincinnati, expressed concern for the welfare of the missing swine: "All of our artists and pig owners were so excited about the summer vacation in Beaufort, and the hospitality of the Arts Council has been wonderful. We hope the missing sow will be found and returned to Cincinnati with the rest of the herd after Labor Day."
The full name of the stolen swine is "Ms. Puercozilla Pigita Pigglesworth, Suee Eleanor Pigsby," and it was created by a girls' art class at Cincinnati's Notre Dame Academy. "The students will be sad and disappointed that their public art pig is gone," said art teacher and project coordinator Julie Burkhardt, "they had such a fun time thinking up the name, design, and concept."
The Arts Council is offering a reward for information that leads to the safe return of Eleanor Pigsby and the arrest of the cowardly culprit.
"If the vacationing swine is returned soon, and unharmed, we will consider dropping all charges and continuing with our public art efforts," said Holowacz. "Otherwise, South Carolina's criminal justice system will see that the pignapper is apprehended and that a foolish prank is rewarded with a serious, unfunny vacation."
This grand larceny of Eleanor Pigsby is not the first crime against Beaufort's growing public art efforts. Last summer, during the Chicago Cows on Vacation project, two vandals set fire to the fiberglass cow then known as Merci Henri.
"We considered that a crime against our community," said Arts Council board president Lesley Hendricks, noting that those responsible were eventually arrested and charged with arson and destruction of property, and are awaiting a court trial. The colorful Merci Henri cow, designed by Joyce Martin Perz as a tribute to the modern painter Henri Matisse, was quickly rebuilt by local auto-body repair specialist Jeff Teter. It rejoined Cows on Vacation several weeks later as a fire-fighting bovine complete with boots, helmet, and ladder.
At the Arts Council's 2001 Annual Meeting, Teter was presented with the Mayor's Award for the Arts in honor of his community spirit and remarkable creativity. In September 2001, Perz will make her first visit to Beaufort for a special exhibition organized by the Arts Council at the USC-Beaufort Art Gallery.
"Projects like these show us how one bad thing can be followed by many wonderful developments," said Holowacz, noting that Backdraft Cow has gone on to visit fire stations in Waleterboro, Sumter, and is currently in Chicago as part of the City Critters exhibition at Lincoln Park Zoo.
To overcome the theft of Eleanor Pigsby, the Arts Council has called on the Coosa Boys & Girls Club and its director Paula Whaley. Students and coordinators there recently completed "Hogs and Kisses," a new pig designed with dozens of postcards, messages, and paintings by young people in our community. With the help of the City of Beaufort public works crew, this new version will be installed at the former location of the missing public art swine.
"Creativity is a natural resource in Beaufort," remarked Holowacz, "and we mine these riches to overcome problems, teach our children and ourselves, build a sense of community, and even stimulate economic development. When the arts and culture are removed from a place, the result is usually a boring, non-descript locale. The person who removed Eleanor Pigsby from our community will have a lot of time to ponder this in a boring, nondescript jail cell."
with information about the theft or current location of
the missing public art pig should contact the City
of Beaufort Police Department at 322-7900. Those
wishing to make a suggestion for public art projects or
a contribution to the Arts Council, should contact 521-4144.