CowParade

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Bronze casting commemorating Chicago's 1999 exhibition

History[edit]

"CowParade” was founded in 1999 by Jerome Elbaum and his son-in-law, Ronald Fox, both of West Hartford, Connecticut.[1] It was based on a concept for public art conceived by Walter Knapp, an artistic director for a Zürich, Switzerland [2] department store, using Fiberglass, three dimensional, life size cow sculptures as canvases for artists. The painted cows were displayed in the commercial centers of Zurich to attract shoppers and tourists. There are three stylized cow shapes - head up, head down and reclining, which Knapp's son, a sculptor, and others fashioned. The 1998 exhibit in Zurich was not called "CowParade" - it was called "Land in Sicht" (roughly translated as "Countryside in View").[3] Peter Hanig, owner of a high-end shoe salon in Chicago, saw the Zurich exhibit, and persuaded others, including Elbaum, then a practicing lawyer, and Lois Weisberg, the Commissioner of Public Affairs in Chicago, to organize a similar exhibit in that city. "Cows on Parade", as it now was called , was a huge success in Chicago in 1999,[4] and the auctioning of the art cows following the exhibit raised several million dollars for Chicago area charities.

Elbaum formed the CowParade company in 1999 and, registered "CowParade" with a stylized three cow logo in blue, yellow, and red as the brand for future events. At the invitation of the Parks Department of the City of New York in 1999, Elbaum and Fox organized "CowParade New York 2000”,[5] featuring nearly 500 painted and artistically transformed CowParade cow canvases, which were displayed on sidewalks, parks and office plazas in all five of the city's boroughs.[6] Running for four months, it was heralded as the largest public art display in the city's history, attracting over 40 million viewers. The auction of the event cows which followed benefited six New York non-profits, including God's Love We Deliver. [7]

In 2021, CowParade, in partnership with God's Love We Deliver, staged in New York City its 100th exhibit, the second event there. It was a curated art event including a number of prominent artists and celebrities, such as Peter Tunney, David Stark, Cynthia Erivo and Neil Patrick Harris, etc. A full-page article about the event and the art appeared in the New York Times on August 23, 2021.[8]

The Cows[edit]

CowParade has used only the three cow canvases in all of its 100 public art exhibits. The cow is an animal which is common to almost all cultures around the world, and, therefore, for the CowParade global events, serves to make the CowParade artistic world one of commonality. The cow is a friendly animal with a quirky personality. The words "cow" and "moo" lead to creative, fun names for event cows. The three stylized cow canvases present interesting challenges for artists. Essentially, Cow Parade is responsible for having created a special niche in the world of art.

The success of CowParade has inspired hundreds of cities and entrepreneurial individuals around the world to create and stage public art exhibits similar to CowParade, using as canvases a myriad of other animal forms and three-dimensional shapes. CowParade is the only one using the stylized three cows as its canvases.

CowParade Worldwide[edit]

Since 1999, CowParade has staged 99 CowParade public art exhibits in 34 countries, which have included more than 6,000 of the cow canvases painted and imaginatively transformed by over 10,000 artists.[9] Each participating artist received an honorarium of up to $2000. Event cities have included London, Manchester (UK), Paris, Marseilles, Brussels, Edinburgh,[10] Stockholm, Copenhagen, Telemarken (Norway), Monaco, Dublin, Isle of Man, Athens, Prague, Geneva, Moscow, Warsaw, Rome, Milan, Florence, Capri, Budapest, Niseko (Japan), Bucharest, Ventspils (Latvia), Madrid, Lisbon, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Atlanta, Madison (WI), Denver, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Boston, Portland (OR), Kansas City,[11] Harrisburg (PA), West Hartford (CT), San Luis Obispo (CA), La Jolla (CA), North Carolina, Mexico City, Tijuana (MX), San Jose (Costa Rica), Lima (Peru), Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre,[12] and 10 other Brazilian cities, Sydney, Perth, Margaret River (Australia), Auckland, Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Xiamen (CH) and Shanghai.[13]

Similar projects[edit]

Globe in TelAviv, A Gateway to the World, 2007

The phenomenon of CowParade has spawned copy-cat statue decorating projects in a number of cities worldwide.[14]

North America[edit]

Criticism[edit]

CowParade has been criticized by contributing artists for their selectivity standards; David Lynch's cow with its flesh partially ripped off, and organs showing, was rejected. The explanation is that this particular CowParade cow was rejected by the City of New York, not the CowParade organization.[95]

A Swedish organization called The Militant Graffiti Artists of Stockholm kidnapped and decapitated one of the cows of the Stockholm event in protest of the publicly provisioned cows carrying advertisements.[96]

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External links[edit]