The Pig and the Poke

On those occasions when you have to eat your words, it's usually best to sprinkle them with salt and humor. Trying to cover up the flavor of a sour observation with saccharine sweetness only incr

Michael Blankenship

On those occasions when you have to eat your words, it's usually best to sprinkle them with salt and humor. Trying to cover up the flavor of a sour observation with saccharine sweetness only increases the original distaste and is liable to ruin your taster's palate, making all your dishes suspect.

It seems I caused some disturbance with the observation that some of the pigs on the streets these days are ugly and godawful. This continues to be true. But some folks took my poke to be a punch at all the pigs, while it was only aimed at the truly ugly and truly godawful. These porcine atrocities need more than a gaudy exterior in order to merit inclusion with their more refined brethren, those which are well-conceived and executed, the effects of which are quite stunning.

The challenge now before me is to determine into which of these categories, treasure or trash, will fall the pig I have suddenly been called to create. A favorite patron (who shall remain nameless) called me out of the blue to inform me she wanted me to do a pig for her. Apparently she'd been talking about this for quite a while with the folks at ArtWorks, but she didn't get around to calling me until literally the last minute. She wanted a marbled, neoclassic pig, so of course she came right to the source.

I didn't think they were still accepting pigs this late; but she said yes, they would. And I'd get a thousand bucks out of the deal? You bet I'd do it!

It was alarming how fast I abandoned my iconoclast's disdain in favor of catering to the tastes of the capitalist bourgeoisie! But not quite so fast.

My Sponsor didn't know what the subject matter of the pig should be. She had some vague notions, but nothing complete, so I took the liberty of doing some sketches. Neoclassic, something along the themes of the Great Republic, American Rome, Cincinnatus and public-duty sort of thing.

Eureka! What about the She-Wolf of the Capitol? But instead of Romulus and Remus suckling at the teats, substitute a litter of city councilors. Given that inspiration, I prepared this sketch for my patron. It met all of the above criteria, it's a well-known image, and it says something about real life in Cincinnati, while satisfying my own tastes for satire.

Thing is, my patron's family is not the make-a-statement-through-satire type. She absolutely loved the sketch, and she was surprised that no one had tackled the subject yet. She hoped something would happen with the idea, but unfortunately it would not have her family's name or money attached. Back to the drawing board.

So I surrendered to the sensibilities of my sponsor. She liked my next sketch, Porcury, with hat, wings, caduceus and all. Our pig will be beautiful, classy, fun and within the bounds of acceptable taste. It will be family-friendly, not anatomically correct. I'm giving Porcury a silly bronze drape over the naughty bits. I'll have about a week and a half to complete it.

It all worked out quite well, if haphazardly, but I doubt this is a unique tale. I suspect CityBeat could do a whole series of "The Pigs You'll Never See" or "The Big Pig Gag" — and perhaps we should. Send in your camera-ready sketches. Who knows what might happen?

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