Herd Mentality

Round 'em up and moo 'em out. For years, Denver looked on enviously as other cities around the globe hosted CowParades — or simply stole the basic idea and asked local artists to decorate totemic symbols that celebrated their town. Some cities went for horses, some crabs, some cowboy boots — but 25 stuck with the cow theme that debuted in Chicago in 1999 (and was itself lifted from a similar event in Zurich, Switzerland, the year before).

And now, after a few failed attempts to copy the concept, the ultimate cowtown is home to CowParade Denver 2006, with a hundred full-sized fiberglass heifers grazing their way across town, all decorated by local artists (with one, the BronCow, signed by John Lynch). "Each artist receives a $1,000 honorarium," explains Jeannie McFarland Johnson of Creative Strategies Group, the organization producing the event here. "It takes a big heart to take on such a project. Painting a cow is not easy. These are life-sized, and they have to deal with the curvature of the cow and the shape of the body. It's more challenging than painting a flat surface."

But these artists were clearly up to the challenge — as were the pint-sized Picassos who collaborated on sixteen "mini-moos" now hanging over Larimer Square. All of the sculptures will continue grazing outdoors — pasturelands are spread across downtown, as well as in Cherry Creek and at Stapleton — through October 18, then return to the barn for cleanup before half are auctioned off for charity at a fundraising gala at the National Western Stock Show Stadium on November 10. (The remaining cows will be auctioned off online through the end of the year.) For a complete guide to all cow locations, head to www.cowparade.com.
July 22-Oct. 18


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