Beaufort County Library Logo
White-painted playground cow with red saddle in Pigeon Point Park, Beaufort
Playground cow in Pigeon
Point Park, Beaufort

"Alphabet Milk Cow" -- Green with white letters, sponsored by the Library
"Alphabet Milk Cow"
Sponsored by the Library
Photo by Michael Broam

"Cows on Vacation"

Community Art Project:
The popular "Chicago Cows"
in Beaufort, SC
April 15 - July 8, 2000

The cows have moo-ved on,
but here's a chance
to visit them all again
in their cyber-pasture!
"Guernsica" -- an abstract parody of Picasso's "Guernica," sponsored by the Library
Sponsored by the Library
Photo by
Michael Broam


Visit Our
Cow Gallery"
... A Virtual Visit
to Beaufort's

Read all about
Cows on Vacation"
"Alphabet Milk Cow" -- Green with white letters, sponsored by the Library

See also:

Big Pig Gig Logo: a drawing of a pig  lookin out from a traveler's suitcase

The Big Pig Gig

The Cincinati Pigs on Summer Vacation in Beaufort

About the "Cows on Vacation"
Community Art Project

Arts Council
Announces Cows on Vacation

(from the Arts Council of Beaufort County
Art News, April 10, 2000)

A unique public art partnership between Beaufort and Chicago;
Over two dozen famous Art Cows to Graze in the Lowcountry

BEAUFORT, SC - The Arts Council of Beaufort County and The City of Beaufort are pleased to announce a unique public art project for the Lowcounty: Cows on Vacation. From April 15 to early July, over two dozen of Chicago's famous Cows on Parade will visit sites in and around Beaufort, South Carolina.

The City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, which operates one of America's best-known public art programs, brought the Art Cow project from Zurich, Switzerland. During the summer of 1999, over 300 life-sized fiberglass cows were decorated by artists and placed in parks, sidewalks, and outdoor spaces in Chicago. Ten million people saw them there, and over 30,000 articles and stories have been written about this simple idea of placing decorated cows in public places.

And this spring and summer, through a unique partnership with the Arts Council of Beaufort County, Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs has booked a small herd on a round-trip holiday to the Lowcountry. "They lobbied very well," said Michael Lash, Chicago's Director of Public Art, "and we felt it was a viable and interesting place to send the cows." Beaufort is the only community to secure a visit from the celebrated Chicago art objects.

As the local arts agency in Beaufort, the Arts Council continually tries to add to the cultural life of the community. "Whether it's planning art gallery exhibitions, sending musicians and dancers to work with local schools, establishing Arts in the Park as a successful community program, or inviting a herd of colorful cows for a well-deserved vacation, the Arts Council is here to make interesting arts opportunities happen," said executive director Eric Holowacz. He added that his office began proposing the idea for Cows on Vacation last September, after several Beaufort constituents returned from Chicago and the remarkable experience of the Cows on Parade project.

Holowacz wrote to over 200 people in the Windy City, from cow owners and corporate sponsors to the coordinators and co-chairmen of Cows on Parade. By December of 1999 over a dozen people had called to commit their cows to a Lowcountry sojourn. "There was so much energy and excitement, and I was still not sure that some of the cows would make it to the Lowcountry" remembers Holowacz, who now had to grapple with logistical problems, such as shipping, insurance, installation, and locations. Solutions came in the form of a letter from Lois Weisberg, Commissioner of Chicago's Cultural Affairs Department. The Commissioner wrote that she liked the idea, and would look into how her office could share the famous cows with Beaufort. "It was the glimmer of hope that Beaufort needed to jump start its public arts efforts," said Holowacz, "as though we had a guardian angel in Chicago, helping us beef up Cows on Vacation."

Public art can build and better define a community to itself and to its visitors, while always celebrating the people, places, and things within that community. With Chicago's Art Cows, the celebration includes over 300 artists and creative thinkers who put their unique designs onto blank, fiberglass forms. Some of the Art Cows are abstract and wild, while some represent people or events, such as the the great Chicago fire. Others are painted like a coral reef, a locomotive, Uncle Sam, A zebra, and a lost tourist complete with map, sunglasses and camera. "When the cows arrive, they're going to astound residents and thrill the visitors," proclaimed Beaufort Mayor Bill Rauch. "I see Cows on Vacation as being a completely unique thing in a completely unique town."

Margaret Caswell, an Illinois native who originally sponsored an Art Cow for Chicago, agrees. Caswell's daughter Jennifer, a graduate student in art at Northwestern University, designed "Don't Blame Daisy," a reference to the notorious farm animal that may or may not have started the great Chicago fire. "We're thrilled she's going South," said the elder Caswell, "we're going to give her a straw hat and put a suitcase beside her that says 'Going to Beaufort'."

Also scheduled to vacation in Beaufort are the "DaVinci Cow," originally suspended from the International Terminal at Chicago's airport, which will land in the Lowcountry at Penn Center's York W. Bailey Museum. 'Stick Cow," which is covered in hundreds of small branches and sticks, will be visiting from its original post outside Chicago's Field Museum. "Space Cow," designed by apprentice artists at the Yocalli Youth Museum, will recline in the shade of a Beaufort park.

Cows on Parade was so successful for the Windy City, that other communities have begun developing their own public art projects based on a local animal or object. Instead of merely copying the format, which involves tremendous planning and resources, the Arts Council and the City of Beaufort casually invited the project's Chicago organizers and the individual Art Cow owners to extend the idea to Beaufort with Cows on Vacation. "I was hoping that we could tap into the most successful art project in recent history, get Beaufort thinking more about art in public places, and maybe form a cultural partnership with a major city," described Holowacz, who is working to develop public art projects for local artists, schools, and organizations after the Cows on Vacation have gone home. "This could be the beginning of a major effort to infuse local creativity with familiar vistas, parks, and landmarks," he said, "and the Cows could lead to a greater partnership, and creative exchanges, with Chicago's Cultural Affairs Department." Beaufort Mayor Bill Rauch agreed: "We live in one of the greatest arts towns in America, and public art is a track that Beaufort should be on."

To get there, the Arts Council asked for local businesses and individuals to sponsor a cow or help volunteer to make the project happen. "We projected a budget to cover shipping, insurance, and a few marketing objectives," explained Holowacz, "and arrived at a need of roughly $15,000." Lowcountry National Bank, which will open its doors in May on Lady's Island, came on-board as the major sponsor for Cows on Vacation. "We at the Lowcountry National Bank believe that the Arts play a significant role in the life of our community," said a spokesperson for the new institution, "and we're delighted to help bring this herd of Chicago's finest bovines to graze among the live oaks and palmettos."

Many local businesses, such as Athena Corporation, the law firm of Howell, Gibson and Hughes, and Bank of America, willingly sponsored a cow on vacation. Corralled by Mary Whisonant, almost a dozen local artists and art galleries pitched in to support two Art Cows. And at Beaufort's schools, Kristy Smith and Margaret Rushton have been involving teachers and students in this public art effort. "The response has been great," said Holowacz, "and there's so much excitement and enthusiasm from all areas of the community. Beaufort has a fun and creative springtime ahead."

Community-minded organizations, like Main Street Beaufort, the Boys & Girls Club, and Beaufort County Schools all pitched in and developed innovative projects to support the Art Cows.

Local artists, organizations, teachers, and creative thinkers have already begun thinking about public art projects for the summer and fall. The Arts Council and the City of Beaufort will help in planning and supporting the continuation of new exciting ideas that connect the arts with the community. "When they return to the Midwest in July, the Art Cows could leave behind quite a legacy," said Mayor Rauch, "and for our small arts town, might just be the start of something big."

The Arts Council of Beaufort County was founded in 1991 by a group of community volunteers who wanted to support the arts and advocate for the cultural opportunities in Beaufort. Now a fully-staffed professional organization, the Arts Council continues to develop innovative approaches to the arts In public policy, education, community service and economic development. "This organization is entirely dedicated to the community," remarked board member Claudette Humphrey, "we might be small town, but we are generating big ideas."

The Cows on Vacation public art project will begin in Beaufort on April 15, and be on display at locations in and around the historic community, through early July. For more information about cultural opportunities, contact the Arts Council of Beaufort County at (843)521-4144. For information about visiting Beaufort, or to learn more about the community, contact the Beaufort Visitors Center at (843) 524-3163.


Articles about the Cows from The Beaufort Gazette
(Posted here by permission of the Editor)

"Cows on Vacation."
The Beaufort Gazette (April 30, 2000), pages 1-C and 3-C.

Beaufort’s most unusual vacationers are attracting quite a herd of ogglers.

Since the 28 fiberglass "Cows on Vacation" began popping up around the county earlier this month, Beaufort residents and visitors alike have been "mooved" by Beaufort’s Bovine Public Art Project.

Sharon Norton, who works in Beaufort Memorial Hospital Radiology Department, became so enthusiastic about the cows that she set out with her digital camera to capture images of all the colorful bovines in their settings, from the Lowcountry Visitor’s Center at Point South to Hunting Island.

"I even went to Hilton Head to get pictures of the Beaufort cow," Norton said.

She shared all her images with equally zealous friends at the hospital who encouraged her to contact The Gazette. Norton’s enthusiasm has been spreading throughout the Lowcountry.

"Lots of educational projects are starting to pop up since the cows came to Beaufort," said Arts Council Executive Director Eric Holowacz. Beaufort High School art students in classed taught by Dan Brown and Melba Cooper have started their own projects. Beaufort Elementary School students also made their own wooden cut-out of a cow with a sign that says "Got Art?"

Letters to the editor have even indicated some people have even run red lights looking at the farm animals strategically placed around Beaufort.

The 400-pound cows are part of the "Cows on Parade" collection of more than 300 on display in Chicago from June through October 1999. A select few are vacationing in the Lowcountry.

"The City of Chicago had hundreds of offers from different communities and organizations and they picked Beaufort as a place they could build this partnership and extend their ‘Cows on Parade’ and that’s how we have ‘Cows on Vacation’," Holowacz explained.

The cows are here through July 8 from the City of Chicago and its Department of Cultural Affairs through a partnership with the Arts Council of Beaufort County, Lowcountry National Bank, who gave $3,000 toward the project, and individual cow sponsors.

"City of Beaufort maintenance staff and police officers have been a tremendous help and have become very involved in keeping the cows safe and helping repair or fix any cows," Holowacz said.

Some interesting facts about the cows about town:

"Cowolina," from Moofort Cownty, South Cowolina, will be a roving cow. Sponsored by the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce, Cowolina will be redesigned by area artists, schools or organizations and will travel around the Lowcountry. Her first voyage was aboard a 50-foot schooner to the MCI Heritage Classic at Harbortown. Today (April 30), Cowolina will be moved to Red Piano Too for display throughout next week.

The DaVinci Cow, spreading its wings as it hangs from the ceiling of Penn Center’s York W. Bailey Museum, St. Helena Island, was originally hung in the Chicago International Airport.

Esther, the Beach Blanket Bovine wearing a swimsuit, goggles and bathing cap, now seen at Hunting Island’s Visitor’s Center, was made especially for the "Cows on Vacation" project.

Stick Cow, on Display at Beaufort Museum in The Arsenal, was bedecked by a former Beaufort resident, Martin Giese, whose parents still live here.

A Web site featuring cow locations and information has been put together by Dennis Adams of the Beaufort County Library. Visit .

"Cowolina roves the Lowcountry"
The Beaufort Gazette (April 30, 2000), page 1-C.

His expertise in painting cows led him to the fiberglass cow he would soon name "Cowolina."

Del Holt has long been known for his skills in painting animals. So when the Chicago Cultural Affairs Department presented Beaufort with a blank fiberglass cow, Holt leaped at the chance to paint the creature.

"I like painting animals because they’re not pretentious. Especially cows – they have such a humorous, whimsical nature about them," Holt said. Holt is the owner of Pale Horse Studio in Port Royal.

He had only one day to start and complete the creation, "but I jumped at the chance to paint the three-dimensional cow," he said.

Holt said the gesture made by Chicago was something he, as an artist, appreciated.

I thought it was great for the artistic community in Beaufort," he said.

"I thought it was great for the artistic community in Beaufort," he said. "Public art is becoming the fashionable thing for cities. And Beaufort was the instigator in bringing the public art concept out of Chicago."

Cowolina has traveled to Hilton Head for the MCI Classic, and is now back Beaufort.

The cow will painted by several other local artists, before making trips to ara schools to be painted by students, said Eric Holowacz, executive director of the Arts Council of Beaufort County.

The Cows Say "Goodbye" to Beaufort!
(July 8, 2000)

Here is the text of the Art Council of Beaufort County's invitation to the farewell festivities:

Your Local Arts Cowncil
Cordially Invites you
to a Farewell and Grand Finale for
Saturday, July 8th, Beginning with
A Cow Caravan Parade Down Bay Street
(from Ribaut Road to the Beaufort Museum)
Rustling through town at 11 a.m., then
a Farewell Open House for the Herd
in the Cow Corral
(the Beaufort Museum Courtyard)
on View from noon until 5 p.m.,
then Join other Sponsors, Cowhands,
and Cattle Drivers for a Farewell Reception to conclude
from 7-9 p.m. at the museum.

The public was invited to all these events.

The Cows Keep Moo-ving ...
(Sightings as of July 2001)

Recent whereabouts of some of the cows who were here on vacation:

  • Cowolina had been repainted by individuals and organizations in the Beaufort coummunity during its visit last summer (as the "roving cow," Cowolina had no fixed location or appearance). She has been grazing in Summerville (SC) in Azalea Park, for the annual Sculpture in South event. Cowolina's next pasture is an arts camp for at-risk youth in Sumer (SC). Watch for her again on July 21 (9:00 a.m.) in this year's Grand Water Festival Parade here in Beaufort.

  • Backdraft Cow (formerly Merci Henri, reconstructed after an act of arson ) has received visitors inside the primate house of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Some of Beaufort's wooden shrimp structures and Walterboro's (SC) catfish joined her as part of City Critters exhibition.

Harley, Cathy Harter. "Big Pig Gig on Vacation." The Beaufort Gazette, July 1, 2001; p. 1.

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