This September, a herd of crazy cattle will be corralled into the meadow outside the Madonna Inn, the building’s famously pink motif providing a fitting backdrop for what will be a zany public art event.
Imagine a cow striking the famous Marilyn Monroe pose from “The Seven Year Itch,” balancing on a surfboard or hanging out with a giant honey bear bottle.
That’s just three of the cows you’ll see at CowParade SLO.
CowParade, launched in Chicago in 1999, has been featured in cities worldwide, including Paris, Madrid, New York City and Tokyo. Famous CowParade painters have included rocker Ronnie Wood, director David Lynch and the band Radiohead. And CowParade cows have been purchased by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Ringo Starr and Elton John.
“The Herd” will come to San Luis Obispo and its surrounding cities this fall, but work to create the widespread event is already in the works.
For each CowParade event, sponsored artists paint life-sized cow statues, which are displayed throughout the community for several months. At the conclusion of the event, each cow is auctioned off, with proceeds going to charities.
CowParade SLO will feature 101 cows — a nod to Highway 101, which connects the northern and southern ends of the county. The cows will be unveiled at a VIP event at the Madonna Inn on Sept. 16 and to the general public the following day. From there, the cows will pull up steaks — er, ah, stakes — and move to cities like San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Atascadero and Paso Robles. For seven months these public art pieces will become selfie magnets — and the subject of udderly endless cow puns.
In April, CowParade cows will be mooooved (we warned you about the puns) to an auction, with funds benefiting ArtsObispo, the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, the California Mid-State Fair’s Heritage Foundation and charities chosen by sponsors.
The event is expected to draw thousands of visitors, giving tourists an opportunity to see beautiful cows in several of the county’s diverse cities and towns.
Along the way, there will be a few fun surprises, but we won’t reveal those just yet: We want to — ahem — milk the suspense.