Cow Parade, Public Art Event

My Cow Parade entry
My Cow Parade entry
Mosaic wall hanging - center panel features a tiny cow jumping over the moon - see the complete triptych after the comments section
Mosaic wall hanging - center panel features a tiny cow jumping over the moon - see the complete triptych after the comments section

The Cow Parade is the largest and most successful public art event in the world, a display and auction of life-sized cow statues that are embellished in various ways by local artists.

Cow Parade began in Chicago in 1999. Some of the locations where the cows have been on display are New York City, London, Tokyo, Brussels, Dublin, Prague, Stockholm, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Boston, Paris, Milan, Houston, San Antonio and Istanbul.

It is estimated that over 100 million people around the world have seen these famous cows.

Over $20 million dollars have been raised for worldwide charitable organizations through the auction of the life-sized cows. Cows have been purchased by many famous people including Oprah Winfrey and Elton John.

In 2011, the Cow Parade came to Austin, Texas, and I entered a design. I anxiously waited to see if it was accepted. The application said the artists would be notified on May 2 and had until June 3 to deliver the finished cow.

I submitted a mixed media design (I would need several months to completely mosaic a cow so this would have to be a mix of mosaic and painting). The name of my cow was going to be Fly Me to the Moon with a theme of Outer Space, which is one of my most favorite things to do. I envisioned a painted background of dark purple. Next, irregularly shaped large spots covered in mosaic and grouted. The tesserae would be a mix of stained glass and costume jewelry. As always, each piece of glass is ground or tumbled to ensure there will be no sharp edges.

You would be surprised at the time I spent researching a name! I thought about this cow during the nights and would wake up with what I thought was a clever and unique name, only to run to Google and find that it had already been used in a previous Cow Parade entry, or is in use by some business entity. Divine Bovine, Comet Cow, Galaxy Cow, Moovie Star, Groovy Moovie, Constellation Cow, Starry Night Cow, Cosmic Cow, Celestial Cow, Moo-ky Way, Satellite, and one name that I won't mention that is involved in a copyright infringement lawsuit (not a Cow Parade name).

It seems this competition opened in October, 2010, and somehow I did not hear about it. I'm really surprised that it slipped by me, because I have been well aware of the Cow Parade phenomenon since 1999. That was the year that one of my favorite couples went to Chicago to see the first Cow Parade.

This same couple heard the exciting news in April 2011 -- they also missed hearing about it earlier -- and they called me and encouraged me to enter a design. I hand-delivered the application on April 14.

IF approved, I would be scrambling to get it done on time. I would need to enlist the help of friends to get the cow, bring it home in a trailer, set it up somewhere here at the house, and after completing the work, somehow get the life-size cow to the display.

I didn't know many of the important details: Who paints the base coat, who sprays the finish coat, where do I pick up and deliver the cow, does a sponsor help with the transportation, etc. Through my internet research I have learned that the cows are sprayed with a final coat of a two-part clear coat normally used on cars. So I would probably mask off the mosaic sections of the cow during this procedure. Since it appeared that the date to notify the artists had slipped, then had the delivery date of June 3 been moved forward? How would I be notified, email or phone call?

Cows would be on display until October 2011 when they would be auctioned and the proceeds go to the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. It would be such an honor and privilege to watch my cow sold at auction to help this worthy cause! I read somewhere that the cow that earned the most money for charity at auction went for $146,000 and was covered with Waterford crystal!

Since my mosaic work is so labor intensive and time consuming, I decided to get a head start on my cow. I chose the most beautiful of all the stained glass in my inventory and started cutting and grinding. I thought my plan was a good one, because I could mosaic areas based on time constraints. If I had enough time, most of the cow would be covered in mosaic, and if I didn't have enough time, the areas not covered by mosaic would be painted. I created little sections on mesh. Here are instructions on how to do that.

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-mosaic-on-mesh

The backbone area would not be mosaiced because I have heard that people like to pick their children up and set them on the back of the cows.

I visited Google Images many times and saw the most awe-inspiring photographs of outer space. I happened across a fabulous site that has hundreds of blog entries detailing far-away galaxies, all accompanied by the most stunning pictures imaginable.

What if my design was not selected? I had an alternate plan. I would create a large wall hanging instead, using Wediboard as the substrate. This design would feature planets, nebulas, galaxies, comets, all in dramatic glowing colors of outer space: iridescent purple, fuschia, blue, red, orange, white, all on a background of black and other dark shades and variations to attempt to convey the vast unknown reaches of outer space.

On May 12, I received an email from CowParade, advising that the artist selection would continue through the month of May. On July 27, CowParade would host a special Preview Party at the Long Center before the cows are put on display throughout the city.

After many more delays and inquiries, in July I finally emailed the company representing the Cow Parade and withdrew my application. I knew that I simply would not have enough time to create anything worthwhile, since the selection process was taking so long.

By this time I had already created about 16 12"x12" squares of mosaic on mesh, so I set about preparing the Wedi board I needed and made three panels instead, with a combined width of seven feet. My one nod to the Cow Parade was to include a little costume jewelry cow jumping over the moon.

Comments 12 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

I have about 30 "cows" from years 2003 to 2006. I started by finding 3 in a flea market and have never seen any since in these places. They will be valuable one day - probably when the g-kids are my age!

I haven't read you hub yet...putting the cart before the cow! Bob


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

...right. I see you are talking about the life sized bovines. Is there any link to the miniatures? Bob


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas Author

Hi, Bob! Thanks for visiting. Here's a link to miniatures. http://store.cowparade.com/


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas Author

Here's another link, a comprehensive Hubpage that has lots of links to eBay auctions and other sources for the collectables. http://hubpages.com/games-hobbies/Cow-Parade


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

Thanks Silva...Bob


Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

I was intrigued by your title. This event sounds fascinating. Maybe I'll get to go someday. Thanks for the information.


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas Author

I hope you get to go someday too, Esmeowl12. Thanks for your comment. I went and took a look at your hubs and you and I share several interests. I had one of those folding wire dog pens and I set it up in an octagon shape and toss compost material into it. One of the best gifts my husband ever gave me was a worm farm, hahaha. Your hubs are interesting and varied and I will go back and read them all.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

Oh, I keep my fingers crossed for you that your design is chosen. The work does sound very labour intensive but it is beautiful. I also find the Cow Parade a very fascinating idead and giving to charity as well - creatitivity, beauty and giving all in a one, can't ask for better. Lots of luck.


Andrea 5 years ago

Can some of the same thoughts as you did when it comes to my traveling near future. We'll see where it actually ends. Hmm…


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas Author

I kept checking withh the PR firm about my cow application and they kept saying that they were still reviewing applications. The time for display got closer and closer, and I saw cows here and there in Austin already being worked on by artists, and I could see that, if chosen, I would not have time to complete my entry, so I withdrew my application and turned my cow mosaic into three flat panels of wall art. See photo below.


Monarch57 2 years ago

Hi, where can you order an unpainted life size cow for kids to paint please?


looks great 11 months ago

Ah well, your mosaic looks great. It says in the terms and conditions that the artists have to assign their copyright to CowParade Holdings Corporation, so at least you still have your copyright! And for the hours of work you would have put in, it would have been a terrible shame not to have been able to use it for anything else, while possibly see it used to make figurines which would be sold for a profit, and leave you, the artist, receiving nothing. There are plenty of other opportunities to do something for charity which don't require you to sign away your copyright.

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    Here is the final mosaic that was meant for the cow; it is now three pieces of wall art, combined size 7 feet x 2 feet.  Stained glass, pearls, crystals, amethysts, vintage costume jewelry, pique assiette.
    Here is the final mosaic that was meant for the cow; it is now three pieces of wall art, combined size 7 feet x 2 feet. Stained glass, pearls, crystals, amethysts, vintage costume jewelry, pique assiette.

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