Sow town


Parade: Pike Place Market 11 a.m. Sat., May 26. Display: various locations (see map insert) through September. For more info, call 682-PIGS or visit

THIS SUMMER, Seattle becomes a hog heaven. For "Pigs on Parade," local artists, school groups, and sponsors have gone hog-wild transforming nearly 200 plain fiberglass pigs into fabulously phat and crafty creations. The summerlong conversion of Seattle's streets and public places into a motley colored, acid trip-style barnyard kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 26th with a grand parade. All gussied up, the pigs will hoof it (well, roll, actually) from a stockyard at the Market to a holding pen at Westlake Center. There, the oinkers will remain for a few days before being dispersed throughout the city to wallow in their own splendor until September. Whether your purse is made from silk or from a sow's ear, you won't be crying "wee, wee, wee" all the way home from this event. It's free!

Modeled after the famous Pike Place Market mascot, Rachel, these porkers—whose forms were also designed by the creator of the Market's dearly beloved piggy bank, Georgia Gerber—come in two poses, one standing and one sitting. They're 3 and 4 feet tall, respectively, and decorated by Seattle artists. Look for Dale Chihuly's signature sow, a Hell's Angels-style "Pork Chopper" by Colin Reedy, a pig coated in rose petals from tail to snout by Ginny Ruffner, Dawn Isaacs' cubist-inspired "Pig-casso," an interactive pig by Nicola Vruink, and a disco pig covered in mirrors by Dave Hanoch.

Should you chance to fall in love with one of the hogs and would rather see that little piggy go home with you than go to market, you can break into your piggy bank and try your bets at the auction on October 13. All proceeds benefit the Market Foundation at the Pike Place Market—a nonprofit that serves downtown Seattle's nearly 10,000 low-income and elderly residents with a medical clinic, food bank, senior center, day care, and preschool, and also helps fund the historic preservation of the Market itself.

Seattle's pigs aren't the first of their kind. In fact, a farm animal-cum-objet d'art epidemic has been sweeping the planet. It began in 1998, when Zurich, Switzerland, hosted the first public arts project of this ilk, displaying more than 800 decorated fiberglass cows throughout the city. Chicago, New York, and Toronto followed suit, mounting fund-raisers of their own with cows, giant moose, and ears of corn. Cincinnati, historically known as "Porkopolis," did the same, but with pigs. Now it's our turn, and Seattle's artists will be hog-tied if they don't outdo 'em all.

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