Calgary has long been known for its Wild West-style way of life. The city’s history of cattle ranchers, cowboys, and rodeos, not to mention being one of the largest beef producers in Canada, earned it the nickname “cowtown.” The cow statues, however, would come much later.
At the turn of the millennium, in 2000, a charitable art organization undertook a large and smile-inducing urban installation, peppering downtown Calgary with life-size, colorfully decorated cow statues. Dubbed “Udderly Art,” the project was a nod to Calgary’s past, and sparked endless amusement and curiosity among visitors to the downtown area.
Made from molded fiberglass, the bovine statues are four-and-a-half feet tall and seven feet long, and weigh almost 100 pounds. They were originally produced in plain white, then sold to businesses and individuals for $5,000 per cow who personalized the cows, working with artists to paint them with unique designs and vibrant colors. For a time, there were 125 of these artful cows displayed around the city center, almost one on every corner.
Later, the quirky statues were sold at auction where they raised more than $1.2 million for Canadian and U.S. charities. And while most of the colorful cows are owned by private buyers today, 17 of them—with names like “Chew-Choo” and “Midnight Cowgirl”—can be seen at the Udderly Art Legacy Pasture near the Centennial Parkade.