Thanks to a $4,000 federal grant, Duane Brandt, an art teacher at Pinedale High, along with his wife, Pip, and Sue Thornton, painted the words of a Wyoming pioneer on the backs of 74 pregnant heifers. Since cows like to mosey in non-linear ways, the animals quickly scrambled a quote from settler Phyllis Luman Metal. This movable metaphor for the changing West, as one of the artists put it, was attacked by columnist Dave Barry, who said "the idea was that the cows would wander around and poop on symbolic representations of taxpayers."
The artists, whose Kunstwaffen Art Group name means "art weapons' in German, don't seem too concerned by their critics, who include Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union. He said, "This project really gives taxpayers something to beef about," reports the Pinedale Roundup. Pip Brandt says the interactive work involved the community, explored the meaning of cultural definitions of both women and cows, and was entertaining to boot.
What did the words on the heifers originally say?
"The ranch was my kingdom. It was magic. It was my love affair. I loved the land, the sagebrush hills, the river, the sunsets, daybreak, and as a kid I roamed over every inch of the ranch and looked at everything. The flowers and insects and birds I can still see, even down to the colors on the birds' wings. I loved the lifestyle, the easy concept of time, the life coordinated with the seasons, the nomadic lifestyle of the animals going to the mountains in the summertime to graze and back to pasture and hay in the winter."
The cow video will premier June 1 at Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs and show through Aug. 1. For more information write the Kunstwaffen Art Group, Box 1102, Pinedale, WY 82941.
* Katharine Bill, HCN intern