Herd on the street: painted cows to return

ARLINGTON – When the cows come home in Arlington, the artists can’t be far behind.

Visitors to last weekend’s annual Art in Legion Park hosted by the Arlington Arts Council were reminded of that when, mixed among the booths selling artwork and hand-made goods, stood life-size colorfully painted plywood cutouts of cows.

Painted cows will be back after a more than 10-year hiatus when 100 cutouts painted by artists and community members occupied a field near the Island Crossing exit at Interstate 5 as part of Arlington’s centennial celebration.

This year’s herd will be considerably smaller – a half-dozen – designed by arts council members and on display soon at Jensen Park across from Kent Prairie Elementary School.

“This is the unveiling of the cows,” said arts council president Sarah Arney, who was instrumental in the centennial cow project, too.

“We have decided to bring the cows back in a small way,” said Monica Bretherton, arts council member and owner of Triangle Ranch, who showed two painted cows at her booth.

The arts council had an official cutout pattern. Bretherton said, “I can make my own cow, and I immediately thought, mine is going to be different.”

Her first cow has a bold red-and-white pattern with a touch of Native American art design, along with comma-shaped pockets that mimic hand-drawn designs on chalkboard. She did that at the Fresh Paint art show in Everett last month. Her second cow she worked on at the Art in Legion show is done in streaks of midnight blue, and she’s doing outlines of people’s hands in gold-colored trim.

She loved doing the project. “I would love to expand this to arts groups in the schools and have them develop the project from the start, where they’re actually helping me design the cows using their own aesthetic.”

Other cow cutouts on display featured a floral print look, and another a black-and-white Holstein cow that doubled as a sign board.

At the art show, longtime vendors’ wares over the weekend included photographic prints and postcards, paintings, decorative gourds, hand-crafted jewelry and purses, tie-dyed clothing and woolen blankets, wooden bowls and patio furniture, and ornately burn-designed wooden spoons. Live music and a garden featuring Skookum Brewery beer and Zerba wine added to the fun, along with original art prizes raffled off every couple hours to help raise money for the arts council and art projects for kids.

Arney said the artists always end up happy, and people do seem to buy things.

“I like to think of it as a showcase for Arlington-area artists,” Arney said. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t do shows like this.”

Kathy Olsen from Mountlake Terrace said a friend told her about the art show. Despite the iffy weather, she and a friend decided to make a day out of it and check out the works.

“This is a nice art festival, not too busy, and there is a great variety of artwork and hand-crafted goods that caught our eye,” Olsen said.

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