Mooers and Shakers

Time for some cow-tipping -- and tippling.

Denver has been a true cowtown these past three months, with life-sized fiberglass bovines standing, staring and chewing their cud all over town. The four-legged phenoms in the CowParade head back to the barn on October 18 (and will be auctioned later for charity). But part of the herd is returning much worse for the wear, since residents of D-town have engaged in a little cow-tipping along the way.

For example, the beast positioned at the corner of 14th and Larimer streets is now backless. "The 'TED Is Cooler' cow has been loved to death by the folks down on Larimer Square," says Jeannie McFarland Johnson, spokeswoman for the local parade. "It is one of the cows that right from the beginning didn't even last 24 hours without being vandalized. People were fascinated by the fact that the back becomes a door. Originally, TED was going to offer freezer pops out of there, but it's just been chronically damaged in some way. People just can't keep their hands off that cow."

Vandals struck in chi-chi Cherry Creek, too. The "John Lynch BronCow," created by artist Joanne Orce, had its helmet stolen; sponsor Rainbow Rewards is offering a $100 reward for the missing headgear. "Happy Cow," also put out to pasture in Cherry Creek and designed by Jay Paonessa and Tim Smith, was robbed of its red collar and bell -- but two days later, the collar was returned with a new bell. And "Room to Moooove," in front of the Ross-Cherry Creek Branch Library, has gotten very disoriented. "It has really tall legs, and it keeps getting turned around," Johnson explains. "We never know what direction it's going to face. Sometimes it wants to read a book, sometimes it wants to people-watch."

One of the mayor's dairy queens.
One of the mayor's dairy queens.

Over in Stapleton, David Westman's "Moo-tanical Gardens" was sheared of all flowers at stroller level. On the 16th Street Mall, a panhandler got a little too aggressive with Cheryl Cusick's "Moo-La" and used a crowbar to pry off the money that had been clear-coated and shellacked to the cow. It was all foreign currency from places like Slovakia and Hungary -- but you never know what might come in handy in that part of town.

Still, several cows made it through downtown's Oktoberfest "without even getting a DUI," Johnson points out. "Hula Cow!" and "Bucky Broncow" emerged from the festivities unmolested, even though "we knew that people would be intoxicated, and intoxicated people have been not so nice to our cows," she notes.

The drunks certainly weren't kind to the critter standing outside the Wynkoop Brewing Co. Pam Sirko's "Cross Country Cow," complete with skis and goggles, had to be sent back to the corral early because it was being used as an ashtray.

So far, just one cow has survived completely unscathed: the mile-high "Cowstellation" hanging out in the "D" over the Denver Pavilions. Cow-tippers, do your duty.

Steer clear! Mayor John Hickenlooper -- who contributed greetings to the new book CowParade Denver -- certainly had better luck with these artistic cud-chewers than he did with an earlier pair. Years ago, when Hick was a lowly geologist turned brewpub owner, he picked up two giant cowheads that had once graced the top of a dairy located at the Tivoli. Thinking they might work on the outside of the Wynkoop, he put them in storage. Sort of.

Then a little thing called an election got in the way, and years later, the restaurant group is still trying to round up the cow heads. "It was classic Hickenlooper," says Lee Driscoll, who manages Wynkoop Holdings and all of its restaurants. Hickenlooper had left the heads with Chris Stames, an artist who'd found them some two decades ago in an old warehouse lot, and a short, informal storage deal grew into a very long one, then finally turned into a restoration project. So far, Stames has collected $12,000 for his rehab work on a job that's going very, very slowly.

"I'm 500 hours into it," Stames says. "Thirty-seven years of neglect don't go away overnight." He's stripped off all the latex, sanded the heads, remade the horns from scratch, and started repairs. "What looked simple was deceiving," he admits. He'd hoped to get the cows done in time for them to make their debut during the CowParade -- a goal that Driscoll would heartily endorse -- but now it looks like this parade will pass them by. Still, Stames promises that someday, these cows will move to the head of the class.

"I'm not looking for any glory for myself," he says. "Just a little recognition."

Move 'em out.

Scene and herd: Before a cloud of smoking hipsters -- the bulk of whom had no idea who he was -- Marcus Camby parked his pimped-out Dodge Magnum in front of the hi-dive last Saturday night, then trotted across Broadway to Blue Ice. Personal foul: Not only was the Nuggets center parked three feet from the curb, but in a bus stop! But Camby's ride remained miraculously unmolested as an RTD driver simply eyed the offending vehicle, then drove a half-block further down the street to unload his passengers. Earlier in the night, there had been no such anonymity for the bespectacled Daniel Libeskind, who strode along Larimer Square amid a cloud of gawkers -- several of whom reached out to shake the man's hand and compliment him on the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, which had opened to the public just that day.

An architect more conspicuous than an NBA star? Maybe this isn't such a cowtown after allŠ

 
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