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The Cows Are on Parade in San Jose Costa Rica Today

CowParade Statute designed by Amanda Blake.
The scenic scape cow designed by Amanda Blake can be found on Ave 4.

The international CowParade art exposition, which brought over 120 fiberglass statues to the streets of San José, will be inaugurated today in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral. The individually decorated cow statues were placed around the city over the past week — in Morazán Park, the Avenida 4 National Park, and along both the Avenida Central and the Ricardo Jiménez Boulevard — and as is common for CowParade, mostly feature designs that reflect local culture.

CowParade art sculptures come in three basic forms: standing, lying down, and grazing. They were created by Pascal Knapp, a Swiss-born sculptor who was contracted by CowParade’s Swiss founder, Walter Knapp. In 1998, CowParade enjoyed its first exposition in Zürich and quickly went international, thanks to Peter Hanig, a Chicago businessman who brought the unusual art to his city. Since its international debut, CowParade has exhibited in 57 locales, and its 58th — San José, Costa Rica — is the first in Central America.

San José’s mayor, Johnny Araya, has said that he hopes that the CowParade’s presence will help improve the city’s reputation as a tourist destination, instead of just a stop-over for travelers headed elsewhere. He says that the CowParade will be just the beginning of several public art exhibits designed to make San José more attractive to both tourists and its own residents.

Over the past two weeks, workers for the Municipality of San José have been placing the statues throughout the city, and commuters returning from their Semana Santa vacations were pleasantly surprised on Monday morning by several statues decorating the city’s boulevards. Mariano Morelli, director of GigantoGrafías and man in charge of managing San José’s CowParade, has asked josefinos to be respectful of the art, and take care as they walk by and observe.

Unfortunately, several of downtown’s statues have already been reported damaged, showing breakage, missing horns and paint deterioration. Several of the art sculptures showed more severe damage, such as Paola Cubero’s A la vaca por los cuernos, which had its bell torn off, and several other parts damaged. In order to protect the art, the city promised to to beef up its security measures and strategically place signs around the art, reminding people to remain vigilant and respectful.

Though there were initial doubts as to whether the CowParade would attract enough sponsors to fuel the event, local businesses like RostiPollos, BAC San José, ScotiaBank, Kraft, Pinturas Sur, Dos Pinos, and many more helped make the vision a reality. Upon project approval, Costa Rican residents were invited to submit cow design ideas to GigantoGrafías, and selected artists were given $500 for their designs.

CowParade art sculptures will be on display between March and August, at the end of which, they will be auctioned off, and 60% of their proceeds given to charity. In the past, the CowParade has been a great success. In its first international test, Chicago raised $3,000,000 for charity, with the average winning cow bid being $25,000 and the top-selling statue earning $110,000. Though only time will tell, the San José CowParade hopes to raise equally impressive amounts for its selected charities.

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Written by Erin Raub

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