Dozens of life-size javelina sculptures, painted in the brightest of colors and designs, are taking over Tubac.
The sculptures, also placed in a handful of Tucson and Green Valley locations, are part of an ongoing art exhibit that continues until next spring.
Arizona artists Nick Wilson and Virginia Hall first pitched the project, now appropriately named Javelinas de Tubac, to the Tubac Center of the Arts back in 2017. The project was inspired by similar exhibits in other cities, such as Cows on Parade in Chicago.
“There was some discussion early on — whether it should be javelinas,” project manager Bob Ochoa says. “But it was the idea Virginia and Nick brought to us. Javelinas are definitely here, in and around Tubac. They’re either loved or despised.”
About a year later, the board for the Tubac Center of the Arts green-lit the project and project runners worked to acquire more than 50 sponsors.
Wilson went on to sculpt a life-size javelina and sent it to a Nebraska fabrication company. By March of this year, the company had replicated the single javelina mold by 50 and sent them back to Tubac.
From there, each javelina was ready to be painted. More than 50 artists — most from Southern Arizona — took part in painting the javelinas.
From colors to designs, each javelina is different. One features yellow wildflowers, one is a metallic silver and one sports the Arizona flag.
“They’re all (the result of) the creativity of each individual artist,” Ochoa says. “I guess if there was a general theme (for designs), it would be what’s in and around Tubac — wildlife, vegetation, trees, landscape. But that’s maybe half a dozen of them. The rest are as different as night and day.”
On Saturday, Oct. 26, 44 adult javelina sculptures and one set of babies were placed at businesses and locations with high visibility around Tubac, the Tucson International Airport, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Mesquite Valley Growers and in Green Valley.
Maps of the javelinas — one organized by artist and one organized by business — can be found online at javelinasdetubac.com and at Tubac’s Chamber of Commerce, the Tubac Center of the Arts and various Tubac shops.
When the project ends in 2020, a number of javelinas will be featured in a live auction. The money raised will be donated to community organizations and nonprofits, in addition to costs spent by the arts center.
Ten javelinas will be in a silent auction sooner than that, now until Nov. 3 at Tubac’s fall festival.
And some javelinas have become so loved that business owners decided to purchase their designated javelina to have it on display permanently.
“This is a community project from the get-go,” Ochoa says. “We have three real goals. One is to come together as a community on what our strengths are — history, art and a great place to shop.”
Ochoa added that they hope the project will highlight local artists, while also bringing more people to Tubac.
“This is in the top three for the largest projects we’ve undertaken in Tubac,” Ochoa says. “It’s brought several key partnerships to make it work.”
Contact reporter Gloria Knott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4235. On Twitter: @gloriaeknott