By Ellen Sussman from the Green Valley News
Beginning Saturday, October 26th, there’ll be a lot to look at that’s new in Tubac Village! Next to businesses or community non-profits throughout the village streets are artistically painted javelina figures. Each one is part of a squadron (that’s what a group of these collared peccaries are called) and will be on display through mid-March 2020 to help draw visitors to Tubac. Six have been placed at Tucson International Airport, encouraging arriving travelers to head south to see all that Tubac’s shops, galleries and restaurants have to offer. One will be at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and a couple of painted javelinas will also be camping out in Green Valley. One will be at Continental Plaza, another at a GVR social center.
The creative idea by Nicholas Wilson and Virginia Hall began in 2017 and officially started in 2018. Should the painted sculptures be metal or clay? How would the project be funded? These were some of the first ideas, said Bob Ochoa, volunteer project manager. Once the project got underway, it was funded by local businesses and commercial sponsors.
Wilson sculpted the original, and it was recreated more than 50 times by Icon Poly of Gibbon, Nebraska into a sturdy model for each artist to paint and make unique. A trailer, with the javelinas secured on two levels, delivered the cargo to Tubac on March 30 and each artist picked up their model to paint.
Galleries in Tubac and artists who are members of the Tubac Center of the Arts were made aware of the project. Artists eagerly signed on, with the freedom to design and paint their javelina with two caveats – no political themes, and javelinas going to Tucson International Airport had to have TUBAC painted on the javelina.
Artist-focused maps will be available to show visitors where each of more than 44 life-size and six pairs of baby javelinas are displayed. Each one includes the artist’s name on a signed plaque.
Beginning Saturday, October 26th, the colorful javelinas will be placed at various locations in Tubac Village. All will be in place by 10 AM. Come on down, have a look, then tell your friends and neighbors about this one-of-a-kind artsy event.
Green Valley artist Carol St. John said she named her javelina “Penny Peccaree” for the copper in the local hills. She started with sanding, a scrub down and a base coat of acrylic paint to prepare the surface for the vivid acrylic colors that would decorate her javelina. “I worked on Penny in my studio. It took two months to prepare, paint and finish. I was crazy about her, even kissed her goodnight when I turned off the lights,” St. John said. “Upon completion, three coats of automotive quality protective finish were applied and the sculpture secured on to a handsome stand – only to wait for the big public reveal.”
Artist Michaelin Otis, whose work is represented by Rogoway Turquoise Tortoise Galley in Tubac, was asked by owners Debbie Barrios and Jackie Zeitler if she wanted to paint a javelina. “I jumped at the chance. I love Tubac and have painted sculptures of carousel horses in the past, so it was right up my alley,” Otis said.
Using the style of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” she used Tubac in place of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. “I photographed buildings including the golf resort, the Tubac sign, Tumacácori Mission and Wisdom’s chicken. Look closely and you will even see the Tubac Center of the Arts. And that is how ‘Starry Night in Tubac’ was born. I had a fabulous time,” Otis said. For landscape and architectural artist Linda Star Landon, her bold and brightly painted javelina was an entirely new challenge.