Jul 17, 2009

The Cow Story

The Cow Story
The cow story began in Zurich in 1998. The Zurich Retail Association used their local Brown Swiss cow (a traditional milking cow in Switzerland) as a model for a life-size fiberglass cow. The plain white, life-size, fiberglass cow had 3 poses: grazing, standing and sitting. Initially, local Zurich artists painted 300 of these fiberglass cows. But, before the event ended Zurich artists had decorated 812 cows!!! They were displayed along streets, in buildings, in parks, in the airline terminal and train station. The cows lured an additional 1.5 million tourists to Zurich. A Chicago businessman who was in Zurich, saw the cows, and brought the idea to Chicago.
Cows on Parade was in Chicago for Summer 1999. Chicago�s Department of Cultural Affairs solicited local artists to paint a cow. A sponsor paid for each �naked� cow. Nothing could be removed from a cow, but an artist could add to it. There were 313 cows that grazed throughout Chicago from June 15 to October 31, 1999. An auction held in November 1999 netted $4 million for the Department of Cultural Affairs with �HANDsome� getting the highest bid of $110,000.
Cow Parade began in NYC on June 15, 2000. It featured more than 500 cows, which were displayed throughout NYC, Stamford, CT and W. Orange, NJ. This was the first public art exhibit encompassing all 5 boroughs. NYC Department of Parks & Recreation organized it. When the cows were sold at auction later that year, they raised several million dollars for charity.
Westland Giftware created a �medium� reproduction of these cows. It is about 6� long, 4� high depending on its pose and �add-ons.�Westland�s first shipment was made September 2000 with 12 Chicago cows. In October Westland shipped 6 NYC reproductions. CowsCowsCows first saw the Westland cow reproductions at the LA Gift Show in July 2000. We loved them, ordered them and had our web site up and running by October 2000. We were the first and only Internet business selling Cow Parade in 2000. We�ve been involved since the start.
Other vendors also produced Cow Parade items. Character Collectibles offered 85 miniatures, 85 ornaments and a wide assortment of other Cow Parade items. The most popular miniature cow made was the Twin Cowers set. In December 2003 Character Collectibles discontinued all of their Cow Parade items.
Since 1999 the Cow Parade has visited many towns.
2001: Kansas City, Houston. Australia (from one coast to the other)
2002: Portland, Oregon, London, Ventspils, Latvia, Las Vegas, San Antonio
2003: Auckland, New Zealand, Atlanta, Brussels, Belgium, Isle of Man, Dublin, Ireland, W Hartford, CT
2004: Tokyo, Harrisburg, PA, Manchester, England, Stockholm, Sweden, Monaco, Prague
2005: Bucharest, Barcelona, South Africa, Warsaw, Mexico City
2006: Boston, Denver, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Madison Wisconsin
2007: Copenhagen, Milan, Marseille, Istanbul, Vigo, West Hartford, Rio de Janeiro
In each city the artists have an opportunity to design a cow and have their talent seen, the public has an opportunity to view and enjoy the art, the sponsors have an opportunity to lure the public to their business, and charities make a profit when the cows are sold at auction. Due to this win-win situation the Cow Parade has benefited many cities and charities. Dublin was excited when at their auction, Waga-Moo-Moo (made with 125,000 pieces of Waterford crystal) sold for the highest price ever - $148,000 U.S. dollars. I saw it in person and it was truly magnificent!
Over the years we have learned much. The Cow Parade organization and Westland Giftware have learned to limit the number of new cows to be released each year to two. They have also learned to have limited quantities of a cow that is retired. For example, both Moon Dreams and Gladiator were retired awhile ago � however, Westland Giftware still has not sold out of the inventory they had. When cows are now retired, Westland Giftware has either sold out or is close to selling out. This works better for the collectors.
The story of the individual cows can be quite interesting. Some artists have done many cows. Other artists do just one. The cow makes a wonderful peaceful pallet.
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