Recently, Henry and I spent a Sunday afternoon in the small town of Tubac, Arizona. Like a number of smaller western towns (such as Silver City, New Mexico, where we used to live), Tubac is surviving, even thriving, by encouraging the development of a tourist-based economy. In Tubac, there are plenty of interesting shops to visit, artwork to appreciate, and nearby places to explore, such as an old Franciscan mission called Tumacácori.

This time, as we wandered through town, I noticed some new art installations: a series of painted javelinas. The javelina, also called a peccary, is a desert dweller that looks like a pig but actually originated in the Americas, whereas pigs were imported from Europe. Javelinas are common in southern Arizona; I’ve even encountered families of them when walking around my neighborhood.

Painting a series of identical sculptures is becoming a theme for art installations. I’ve encountered and photographed such artwork before, sharing two sets on Instagram: lobsters in Plymouth, Massachusetts and hearts in San Francisco, California. This week on Instagram, I will share more of these Tubac javelina images each day.

As an artist, I appreciate the integration of art with its locality. It wouldn’t make sense to bring lobsters to the desert, but these javelinas fit right in. They become a canvas for celebrating other elements of the desert, such as the indigenous plants and wildlife illustrated above, or the native cultures of the area.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I am recognizing how grateful I am for many things. I appreciate having an afternoon off, and the ability and opportunity to drive to Tubac. I am glad to support some local artisans with my purchases, rather than spending money at big corporate stores. I appreciate seeing others’ perspectives on this desert we share.

For what are you grateful today?

If there were similar artwork installed in your city or town, what would be the thematic sculptures, and what images would artisans paint on them?

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