Hancock Employees & Students Bring Winged Cow to SLO County

Hancock Employees & Students Bring Winged Cow to SLO County

Photo Credit: Allan Hancock College
Photo Credit: Allan Hancock College

“Moonarch Dude” part of CowParade display

When Hancock employee Marna Lombardi first learned that San Luis Obispo County would host the world-famous CowParade, it became her personal mission to ensure that Nipomo, her hometown, had a cow.

“Nipomo needs a cow!” Lombardi exclaimed. “I had personally visited Chicago in 1999 during the first CowParade, so it’s exciting to see the event hosted locally.”

According to their website, CowParade is an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major world cities including Paris, Hong Kong, Athens, Moscow, Milan, London, New York, Cannes, Rio, Rome and beyond.

Since its inception, CowParade has been staged in over 75 cities and towns worldwide. Each CowParade shares a few common elements – community involvement, sponsors and artists as well as charities, beautifully painted cows, increased tourism and notoriety. The event has also raised more than 30 million dollars for charities through auction.

Lombardi, who works as industrial technology academic support specialist at Hancock, first learned that the cows would be coming to San Luis Obispo County through her involvement in the Oceano/Nipomo Tourism Board. She then collaborated with Kevin Beauchamp, a local realtor and member of the same board. Together with initial funding from the tourism board, they were able to work with the Trilogy Monarch Dunes community (including the golf course, the Monarch Club and SheaHomes) in Nipomo to raise the $8,000 needed to purchase a life-sized fiberglass cow and commission the perfect artists.

“It all began with a vision by the team of donors to find the right artist with the right design,” said Lombardi. “That vision was for our cow to embody the qualities of the Central Coast and the Trilogy community that we love, including the food and wine, golf courses, and the famous monarch butterflies that flock to the area’s eucalyptus trees.”

The artist commissioned to paint the cow was Hancock ceramics
student Karen Floyd. As a Trilogy resident herself, Floyd caught the vision quickly and submitted her designs along with over a hundred other artists. After being interviewed and chosen by the “cow committee” she spent the summer painting the cow in her garage.

“I love cows, both on and off the dinner table,” said Floyd. “However painting a cow was certainly new territory for me!”

“I enjoy creating my own art in as many mediums as I can get my hands on,” she said. “I found the undulating form of the cow to be a perfect canvas!”

The project really took flight when Karen enlisted the help of her friend, local artist and Hancock College ceramics lab assistant, Mike McNutt. McNutt cut giant metal butterfly wings fit for a cow using a template that Karen provided.

With the painting done and the wings in place, all that was needed now was a proper nickname. The committee chose the name “Moonarch Dude,” a play on the name of the sponsor, Trilogy Monarch Dunes.

Moonarch Dude will be one of 101 painted cows that will be paraded across the Central Coast in locations from Nipomo to Cambria. However, before the cows are scattered throughout the county, they will be gathered at the “101 Cow Roundup,” a special free event at the Madonna Meadows (next door to the Madonna Inn) on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., where people can visit each unique cow in one location.

Each cow will be sold at the end of the art exhibit with proceeds going to local charities. Once sold, Moonarch Dude’s funds will benefit the new Oceano Visitors Center.   

More information on the location of the 100 other cows that will join Moonarch Dude along the trail from Cambria to Nipomo can be found at www.cowparadeslo.com.

“You can’t even say the word ‘cow’ without smiling,” said Floyd. “Now that Moonarch Dude is no longer my secret garage project, I hope that people will enjoy the cow as much as I have enjoyed painting it!”

More information on the event can be found at www.cowparadeslo.com and at the CowParade Facebook Event page.