How now, Artfully Painted Cow?

June 26th, 2010

All the really good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
~Grant Wood

Hathor, the woman-cow goddess Goddess of Fertility. In this temple carving from the 18th dynasty she is nursing the Pharoahess Hatshepsut.

Boy Milking Cow by Grant Wood 1932 Hathor painted on papyrus

Grant Wood, of American Gothic fame was a mid-western boy who understood the meditative value of chores and cows.

I was recently in Burlington Vermont on the shimmering shores of Lake Champlain and had the good fortune to see the artfully painted cows on Church Street. What a glorious celebration of Vermont’s favorite domestic critter! Cows were painted by artists, businesses, colleges, kids etc.

Seeing this fabulously creative outdoor exhibit made me think about how the cow has been represented in art over time. Hathor, the Egyptian Woman-Cow goddess of fertility is certainly not the first artful cow image, but she was quite lovely in any of her manifestations, whether carved in sandstone, painstakingly painted on papyrus, or shaped from granite. She is sometimes represented as a cow, and sometimes as a woman, and always serene and fertile.

I remember in grad school at MICA years ago someone told me that the pyramids were the world’s largest community arts projects.
That only makes sense to me if the slaves volunteered.
Perhaps they did.

Hathor with her moon/ horn head dress, painted on papyrus

Katherine Montstream's Burlington Cow

The artists on Church Street certainly volunteered, with quite lovely results. One of my favorites was by Katharine Montstream, who interprets the architecture of Burlington in harmonious, chaotically energetic, lavender hues, along the ample flanks of the cow.

I’m usually better at taking notes of the artists who have done the work, but Katharine is the only artist’s name I recorded. Apologies to other artists! Feel free to comment and claim your work!

The cows will be raffled off in the fall to raise money for the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger which funds several charitable initiatives which feed needy kids.

Painted by a children's group

One of  of the large fiberglass cows that was particularly vibrant was painted by a children’s group.

And another astonishing bovine sculpture was painstakingly covered with stained glass.

Stained glass cow

It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, wandering Church Street, the pedestrian downtown mecca of Burlington, munching on my decadent favorite summer treat: kettlecorn, and admiring the art.

I highly recommend it.

The cows are on display on Church street until October 11, 2010  AFter that they’ll be listed online for auction. October-November 2010

For more information about the cows and artists see: Cows Come Home

4 Responses to “How now, Artfully Painted Cow?”

  1. Wow that stained glass one is quite impressive. Painstaking indeed! Now that’s dedication I don’t know if I would have myself 😉

  2. Lynn Bridge says:

    I especially enjoyed the mosaic cow, since I do mosaic myself. Thanks for sharing all.

  3. Kadira says:

    Gorgeous cows – what an inspiring idea – I especially love the obrightly coloured one with the hands. Thanks for sharing Liz

    • lizamyers says:

      That one was done by children. There’s something so vibrant about kids art. It’s always honest and moving. Thanks for your comment!

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