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Happy Saturday – Public art is an interesting thing. Cities want pay various artists to create works and then they are displayed for the (hopeful) edification of the people and beatification of the city. The problem is the appreciation of art is a very personal thing. You may or may not have any formal education in art, but you will always have an opinion about any art you encounter.

The City of Denver has an extensive public art program. Since the Dog lives in the Mile High City, he thought he would use this weekly space to take a look at various pieces of public art. Now the Dog knows that many of you will know about the Blue Stallion at the Denver International Airport, but this hound is not a believer in starting with the negative . Rest assured we will get to that travesty (including the story of how it killed its creator) on another weekend.

Instead lets kick off this series with a piece of art that the Dog found during the 2008 Democratic Convention. It is called Scottish Angus Cow and Calf by Dan Ostermiller.


Back in August of 2008, your hound was walking to where his wife worked so we could drive home together. This mean cutting across a big stretch of down town Denver. The Police were gearing up for their infamous Civic Center Park bust of a teenagers and others partying in the park that night. So the Dog had to detour behind the Denver Museum of Art.  Passing by the back of the Museum there was this piece, gleaming dully in the spot lights.

Now Denver has a reputation as a Cow-Town. It is one that we earn every year with the National Western Stock Show, so it made the Dog laughed aloud when he first saw this calf and cow, fifteen feet tall in bronze. The thing is it also stopped me in my tracks. There is something compelling about the look on the calf’s face. Mr. Ostermiller has managed to capture that look of interest and concern that calves often show. The angle of the legs show that it is young and uncertain on its feet, yet it is wants to stand.

The open mouth on the mother cow is also something you see, if you have spent any time around cattle. You can almost hear her complaint at you being too close to her new born. Still she is not up on her feet, so she does not see you as threat, just something that needs a little warning of how to behave.

All in all, this piece is exactly what the Dog wants out of public art. It is engaging, it is very masterfully executed and it requires some thought from the viewer to put in context. The only problem with it is the location. It sited one street away from Broadway, one of the biggest and busiest streets in Denver, where almost no one will ever see it. The piece is big enough that it would be quite visible on a 40 mile per hour street, yet calf and cow are tucked away behind the museum.

There is one of my favorite pieces of public art, what do you think?

The floor is yours.

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 01:08 PM PST.

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