Public Art: ‘Denver, Moo Means the World To Us’
Sculptor/Artist: © Sean Griffin (from a Pascal Knapp designed cow)
Description: Fibreglass cow, weighing approximately 60kg.
Location: Right next to the tourist information box at 16th Street Mall, Denver, Colorado.
History: Okay I think I have got it. This cow is not alone, there are literally hundreds of them, but they are all the same (well, you have a choice of about 3). They are part of a “world’s largest public art event” run by CowParade. Cities around America and even the world are invited to participate as part of a charity fundraiser.
The event goes something like this, local artists in each city are invited to paint the cow/s, they must bear in mind cultural influences of the city, people etc and use their own interpretation of the cow as an art object. The new and improved cows are then put on display before being auctioned off. The charities receive a substantial portion of the proceeds. The idea was conceived in Zurich, Switzerland, by Swiss window dresser Walter Knapp, in 1998. Originally called “Land in Sicht” the event really didn’t take off until businessman Peter Hanig and Lois Weisberg (the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs) bought the concept to Chicago the following year.
Now, even I was astounded to learn that the Chicago auction in 1999 raised $3 million for charity (holy cow) the average bid for each cow was about $25,000. The all-time winning cow is Handsome who sold for $110,000. So how did this little Denver cow do? It is well worth checking out the CowParade website, though I must say I did get a little freaked out looking at a picture on their CowParade Worldwide Slideshow. Is there something creepy about seeing hundreds of painted cows all together in a huge shed, or is it just me? As the organizers say “it is not meant to be high art” (no kidding or is that no bull?).
Denver, Moo Mean the world to us
Artist Sean Griffin
Purchased By BID
Downtown Denver Business Improvement District
Thought of the Day: So collectively do we call this a herd of public art?
Controversy: When cows are involved there is always controversy. A Swiss company called CowHolding Parade AG sued the American Company CowHolding Parade over the concept.
A Swedish Organization, calling themselves The Militant Graffiti Artists of Stockholm, kidnapped and decapitated one of the Swedish cowparade cows in protest over the fact it had advertisements on it. They sent their demands in a video (which included the kidnapped cow) to the local newspaper. Their demands were simple, declare the cows of the CowParade “non-art, otherwise, hostages will be sacrificed.” Needless to say, the hostage lost its head.
David “Twin Peaks” Lynch’s cow was rejected in the New York cow parade, deemed too gruesome. It had knives and forks in its back and no head. This parade also rejected a cow created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, prior to the event even being held.
Trivia: Swiss-born sculptor Pascal Knapp, owns the copyrights to the standing, lying and grazing cows used in CowParade.
There is a big bronze casting cow on display in Chicago.
Keep an eye out for miniature figurines of the CowParade cows, they are now popular collectibles.
Tim Wonnacott, a British television presenter of shows including Antique Roadshow and Bargain Hunt, has successfully raised money for charities in the London ‘Cow Parade’ auction held in Autumn 2002, which raised over £400,000 for Childline. Wonnacott conducted another auction for Cow Parade in the Isle of Man which made over £110,000.
Where the herds are :
Chicago, Illinois, United States
New York City, New York, United States
Stamford, Connecticut, United States
West Orange, New Jersey, United States
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Houston, Texas, United States
Portland, Oregon, United States
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Auckland, New Zealand
Isle of Man, United Kingdom
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
San Antonio, Texas, United States
West Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Prague, Czech Republic
Manchester, United Kingdom
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Johannesburg, South Africa
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Denver, Colorado, United States, 16th Street Mall
Wisconsin, United States
Miami, Florida, United States
West Hartford, Connecticut, United States