Jack Rabbit Jamboree
An Art Project That Jumps Out at You in Odessa
by KAY ELLINGTON
If you meet someone from Odessa, and they tell you they have six-foot-tall jackrabbits on their streets, it’s not a tall tale.
This association with jackrabbits began in 1932 at the very first Odessa Jackrabbit
Roping Contest — as a “hare-brained” publicity stunt during that year’s annual Odessa Rodeo. The contest is no longer held, and a more humane tribute can be found throughout the city today.
Historically, Odessans have always had a curious relationship with these cottontailed creatures. After all, the jackrabbit’s quickness, agility and uncanny ability to adapt to harsh environments reflect the characteristics of West Texans and Odessans.
“Right: Symphony de Bunny,” by Wesley Haynie, located at Odessa College on the northwest corner of 23rd Street and Andrews Highway.
The Jackrabbit Jamboree, launched in 2004 by a large, collaborative group of civil servants, commissioned local artists to paint 37 distinctive jackrabbit sculptures standing six feet tall that were then strategically placed around the city.
Each brightly decorated jackrabbit is unique to its host location. The designs reflect the locations’ background and are representative of the people who created them and the artists’ conceptions of Odessa at the time. The main goal of the project, made possible by the collaborative effort of several organizations, including the Odessa Council for the Arts & Humanities (OCA&H) and the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, was to increase cultural tourism and to provide art to the public.
Left: Big Sky Bunny,” by Sireesha Amaram, located at Medical Center Hospital off 5th Street in the courtyard of the new outpatient center.
Thirteen years later, the Jackrabbit Jamboree still offers a cultural immersion into the lives of Odessans and offers a unique attraction for visitors.
“Above: Fiesta Hare,” by Christie Lee Ray, located at Burnet Elementary School, 3700 Permian Dr.
From the Spring 2017 issue of Authentic Texas.