Painted Cows: Where Church Meets Main – Decorated for a Good Cause …
“One can measure the greatness of a nation and its moral progress by the way it treats its animals. Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world. The cow means the entire subhuman world.” Mahatma Gandhi.
Sacred Cow: One that is immune from criticism, often unreasonably so. Figuratively, anything that is beyond criticism: Dictionary.com
I had the great good fortune to spend this past weekend as a chaperone at an excellent Young Writers Conference in Burlington, Vermont. Over a hundred high school students from across the country, including one of mine, gathered at Champlain College to read, write and learn about the art and craft of writing.
In between attending workshops and helping out, I headed down to Main Street to catch a glimpse of the creativity and beauty of this lovely area and to take some photos of Lake Champlain. It was Saturday morning. As I turned towards the cobblestone corridor where Church Street intersects Main, walking past crowded Church Street restaurants, stores and little cafes, watching people sitting outdoors enjoying a meal, a conversation and the warm weather, a painted cow caught my attention and then another and then a third.
I took a closer look and was nicely surprised to discover a colorful and wildly creative display of fiberglass cows up and down Church Street Marketplace. I reached for my camera and shot 25 colorfully decorated and painted cows. Each painted cow, decorated by a local artist in bright colors and beautiful designs, seemed to hold a special story it was simply dying to tell.
“All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.” Grant Wood
The main story was, as I found out on further research, that 35 unvarnished, Fiberglass cows were sent to local artists as “blank canvases.” The artists decorated them in any manner their imagination or creative muse led them. Once finished, each cow found a temporary home as part of a prominent display in downtown Burlington and regionally. Sometime in October/November 2010, the cows will be auctioned off, to raise awareness and money, to benefit the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.
I love cows… I love that cows are revered and unsullied in India and that Lord Krishna had a bevy of devoted cow herders (Gopis) who saw Krishna and God’s undying love in their cows and therefore tended to them with unconditional love; sparing many a cow a trip to the slaughterhouse. Cows symbolize wealth, strength, abundance, selfless giving and a full Earthly life.
I love cows… I love their lackadaisical temperament, their appearance and the many ways they provide food for humanity. Cows are charming animals and if you’ve ever been on a farm where cows are lovingly cared for and allowed to graze freely, one could spend hours watching them move, feed, and moo their way through life…
While the viral spread of Mad Cow disease almost destroyed their positive public relations several years ago, they have rebounded. The image of a contented cow is often plastered on everything good and sometimes, yes sometimes, you want to kick the bloody snot out of anyone who complains about a sacred cow.
Even as the global death rates drop for children 5 and younger, hunger remains a persistent problem for children here and elsewhere.
If you love cows… walk down Church Street with me and savor the rich hues, the jocular messages, the bold and subtle statements about Vermont life; actually about life everywhere … then join me in celebrating this particular breed of sacred cows. After all, they are on Church Street for a good cause; to End Childhood Hunger.
Did you have a sacred cow you cherish? A sacred cow you abhor? Do share your views below. Do you have questions or views in general? Please share. As always, your comments are always appreciated. Thank You!
Sacred/Painted Cows from E. Obih-Frank’s personal photos
Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©