When a Cow is a Canvas

When a Cow is a Canvas

CowParade 2016 Comes to Trilogy at Monarch Dunes

By: Marna Lombardi


Trilogy Members from all over may be familiar with the CowParade, which was started in 1999 in Chicago.  I remember visiting Chicago that year and trying to find as many of the 300 painted cows that were placed throughout the city as I could.  For the last seventeen years, the CowParade has grown into a huge international public art installation that has since been hosted in 80 cities – including Paris, Budapest, Hong Kong, New York, Madrid, and Rome – in 30 countries. Over 10,000 artists worldwide have participated in the CowParade to transform life-size fiberglass cows into over 5,000 one-of-a-kind artistic creations. No two cows are alike.

Those of us living on the Central Coast were thrilled to learn that San Luis Obispo County had been selected to host the 2016-2017 CowParade.  San Luis Obispo is located on the Central Coast of California on highway 101, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Kevin Beauchamp, Trilogy Member, local Realtor and board member of the Visit Oceano/Nipomo Tourism board, felt strongly that having a cow representing Nipomo in the San Luis Obispo County CowParade was “crucial.” He joined with others in the Nipomo community to form a “cow committee” to make this happen. This cow committee included representatives from the Visit Oceano/Nipomo Tourism Board, The Monarch Club, Shea Homes, and the Monarch Dunes Golf Course, who together contributed $8,000 to purchase the fiberglass life-sized cow, to pay for expenses, and to pay the artist who would paint the cow.

It was important for the team of donors to find the right artist with the right design for the Nipomo/Trilogy at Monarch Dunes cow. The team clarified and summarized their vision for the cow design in the following statement:

Trilogy is a lifestyle.  It includes golf courses, wine & food, and the beauty of the Central Coast, and is aptly named for the monarch butterflies that reside in the eucalyptus trees in our community.  Our vision is for our cow to embody all of those qualities while also standing alone, as a piece of art.

unknown-1After interviews with several talented individuals, the selection committee chose Karen Floyd, who is an artist, a retired art teacher, and a Trilogy at Monarch Dunes Member, to paint the cow that would represent Trilogy and Nipomo. In her interview with the selection committee, as she articulated her design ideas, Karen enthusiastically stated that she “loves cows – both on and off the dinner table.”  Also, as a fan of Gary Larson, she could relate to his statement that “you can’t even say the word cow without smiling.”
Upon being selected, Karen immediately began work on her design to match the cow committee’s vision statement, noted above. She painted the cow (somewhat secretly) in her garage over the summer months before revealing the final product to the cow committee.

All of the committee members agreed that the final result was an amazing work of art that truly captured what the Trilogy community and Nipomo are all about. The cow has two distinct sides: one with a bright, daytime scene of a golf course, vineyards, and monarch butterflies soaring into the sky; and the other of the dunes and coastline at sunset, with stars just starting to appear, along with music notes, in the night sky. The magnificent monarch butterfly wings on the cow’s back give a magical quality to the work, while the sunglasses resting on the cow’s nose add a note of playfulness and “cool California” to Moonarch Dude.

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Holly McGinty, Sales and Marketing Manager of the Monarch Dunes Golf Course and cow committee member, shared that she was excited about co-sponsoring this unique, fun, and inspiring piece of art that, among other things, depicted the beauty and quality of the Monarch Dunes Golf Course. Fittingly, Moonarch Dude is resting on an astroturf base modeled after the 2nd hole on the Old Course, a par three hole that is one of many Members’ favorites.

A “101 Cow Roundup” was held on Saturday, September 17th, for people to view all of the San Luis Obispo CowParade cows in one setting on one day.  After that, the cows were moved to their display spots, where they will stay until May 2017. Some particularly clever cows from the “101 Cow Roundup” are shown below.

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For the Trilogy at Monarch Dunes community, a cow reveal event was hosted on Thursday, September 22nd, to introduce the Trilogy community to Moonarch Dude and to share the collaborative spirit of the different groups that worked together to make this special work of installation art a reality. Attending the reveal event were over 100 Trilogy Members as well as representatives from the Oceano State Parks, Visit Oceano/Nipomo Tourism Board, Shea Homes, The Monarch Club, and Trilogy Monarch Dunes Golf Course. A Moonarch Dude inspired menu was served – gourmet beef sliders and strawberry vodka “adult milkshakes.” A wonderful time was had by all! (The very talented artist, Karen Floyd, is pictured below in the cow-print shirt.)

unknown-11Moonarch Dude will be on display in the community of Trilogy at Monarch Dunes from now until May 2017. At the end of the art exhibit, each CowParade cow is sold with proceeds going to local charities.  Once sold, Moonarch Dude’s funds will benefit the Central Coast State Parks Association – specifically, the new Oceano Visitors Center.  Dena Bellman, Associate Park and Recreation Specialist for the Oceano Dunes District, shared that the donation from the auction will help fund educational programming at the new visitors center in Oceano. This benefits the local community members as well as the 2.3 million visitors that come to the Oceano Dunes District parks each year.

unknown-9CowParade has been enjoyed by an estimated 250 million visitors since its debut in Chicago in 1999. Sponsors and artists have received global recognition and over 30 million dollars has been raised for charitable organizations around the globe through the auction of the cows at the conclusion of each event. We encourage all readers to visit www.cowparadeslo.com to find the map of 101 cows that will join our cow, “Moonarch Dude,” along the trail from Cambria to Nipomo. If you don’t live in the area, it’s just one more wonderful reason to plan a vacation to the Central Coast!