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The Art of Paint

Last year, Chicago, Illinois celebrated the 20th anniversary of the popular “Cows on Parade,” a collection of 334 uniquely painted fiberglass cows sponsored by area businesses, painted by local artists and exhibited on sidewalks and plazas around the city. For the anniversary, 20 of the original cows were displayed in a park near the Water Tower for an installation called “Cows Come Home.” 

Since the first “Cows on Parade” exhibit in 1999, a movement has spread across the country. Inspired city organizations have embraced community-involved art projects as a way to commemorate anniversaries and celebrate local icons. In St. Charles, Missouri, 25 dog statues honoring Meriwether Lewis’ Newfoundland dog commemorate the city’s 250th anniversary and its historical significance as a point along the Lewis and Clark expeditions. In Le Mars, Iowa, where more ice cream is made than anywhere else in the United States, 55 ice cream cone statues dot the town. The Main Street Manager for Le Mars’ Chamber of Commerce, Mary Reynolds, said she knew about Chicago’s cows and believed that if a big city could do it a small city could too.  

Cities, big or small, have adopted these programs to boost city pride and attract tourism. Each sculpture is painted in a way that represents the sponsors or adds beauty and interest to the town. Some are permanent installations and others, like “Cows on Parade” are temporary. Many are initiated by city offices, chambers of commerce, arts councils or merchants groups. No matter how they are organized, these projects can translate into sales and goodwill for paint and home improvement retailers. The art projects require paint primers and quality exterior paints and sealants, as well as expertise in durability and technique. Retailers can join the movement by initiating or supporting an art project in their area.   

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