If you're new to Odessa, it doesn't take long to notice a quirky but hopping theme to the city. Charming and colorful cottontail sculptures peeking out from every corner, inviting a smile, a chuckle, and a raised eyebrow or two. So, what's with the bunnies anyway? Listen in for a little story about a group of artists, a community with a soft spot for jackrabbits, and a tourism project that earned the city an unforgettable identity.
WHAT ARE THE JAMBOREE JACKRABBITS?
Visitors and residents alike often find great delight in skirting around Odessa in search of 37 sculptures, purposely placed and uniquely painted to reflect the cultural identity of each locale in the city. The artwork was commissioned as part of a project known as the Jamboree Jackrabbits, a plan to boost cultural tourism to the area that was launched in 2004. The Jackrabbits were painted by a variety of artists, in a free thought form which encouraged painters to voice their impressions of Odessa on the colorful 6-foot tall monuments.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE JACKRABBITS?
Vibrantly decorated animals have been popping up all over the world in the last decades, from cows in Chicago to moose in Toronto, to bison in Oklahoma City and more. But why did Odessa choose the Jackrabbit? It turns out the Jackrabbit has been an icon of the Texas township since 1932 when the area hosted the first Jackrabbit Roping Contest at their annual rodeo. The Jackrabbit was chosen to represent the local Texans as highly adaptable, quick-footed people. The Jackrabbit Roping Contest turned out to be quite controversial and is no longer practiced today, but the presence of the Jackrabbit art movement is evidence that Odessans are well connected to their heritage.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST JAMBOREE JACKRABBITS
Since art appreciation is largely an interpretation of an individual's perspective, it's impossible to mention just a few out of the 37 Jackrabbits as the best in the city. However, over the past 12 years, it can be determined which sculptures are the most photographed and talked about. Jack Ben Rabbit is often regarded as the main Jackrabbit in the city. He's an 8-foot tall version located on 8th Avenue and was once considered to be the largest in the world, painted with the traditional markings of the local animal. Other favorites include the Patchwork Bunny with images that represent Texas, located on University and the Freedom bunny, with blue skies, green grass, and big Texas star, found on 42nd Street.
To learn more about finding all 37 Jamboree Jackrabbits and more exceptional reasons to live in Odessa, contact us today at Sedona Ranch.