5-Foot-Tall Cottontails Invade the Conejo
The Spanish word for rabbit is “conejo,” for which our beautiful valley was named, but the cuddly little critters are taking on a new persona born from a joint venture of the cultural nonprofit Arts Council of the Conejo Valley and Art Trek, Inc. Imagine a 5-foot, 6-inch cottontail sitting on the lawn of your city hall. It’s possible.
Conejo Public Art is sponsoring the Conejo Cottontails Project, involving the creation of giant, fiberglass bunnies painted by skilled artisans. The whimsical program can be viewed as a tribute to our local namesakes, but, more importantly, it’s a means of raising awareness of the arts in our communities.
Pat Johnson, who chairs the steering committee for the group, came up with the idea in 2003, following some vacation trips with her husband. Visiting Custer, South Dakota, they found sculptures of buffalo. In Park City, Utah, there were crafted moose. Even Chicagoans fancied the cow to represent their city.
When she considered what might work similarly in the Conejo, there was only one choice—the cottontail. The first lagomorph statue was completed by artist Hessam Abrishami and is currently housed at Art Trek, Inc. under the caring eye of Nan Young, who was instrumental in getting the project off the ground, developing an educational component and finding donors to buy the first few sculptures, all which will be donated to and placed at other nonprofits.
A total of 20, 5-foot, 6-inch painted conejos are planned for this first round and will be sold for $5,000 a piece to local businesses, groups and individuals. Twenty professional artists, both painters and mosaic tillers, have been selected to do the artwork, which shall begin to appear throughout the Conejo Valley as early as March 1!
“Our goal is to have these works of art multiply like rabbits to bring attention to project arts in our community,” says Pat. “Through the funds raised, we can offer visual arts and other programs for everyone from school-aged children to seniors.”
She notes that everyone she talks with about the project says, “What a great idea.” She says she has received enthusiastically positive responses from the likes of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, Parks and Recreation, Cultural Affairs, City Council and many others.
“We particularly need businesses in our community to get behind public arts in our communities,” she says. “Until now, we have had no real public arts program here that can be shared with residents and visitors of all ages, all cultures and backgrounds. The Conejo Cottontails Project is the first and we hope we will receive the necessary support to continue or efforts.”
Cottontail sponsors will be recognized with plaques placed on their rabbits and maps will be available to the public to show the artwork locations throughout the area.
For more information, visit ConejoPublicArt.org or contact Pat Johnson (805.497.3101) or Nan Young (805.499.1700).