Bovine Art

Art student Vivian Hare is burning the midnight oil to finish her latest work of art -- a life-sized fiberglass cow painted head to toe with dairy scenes.

"It's hard to paint something two dimensional on something that's three dimensional," Vivian said of the process of transferring her paper art to a cow model. "The cow is really realistic, so it has a lot of awkward angles and curves on it."

Vivian, a junior, is one of only 30 high school students nationwide chosen to decorate a fake bovine in an attempt to win the $30,000 grand prize. The Art of Dairy contest is sponsored by Lucerne dairy products and Pleasanton-based Safeway, Inc.

This year's them is Sharing Joy, so the artwork has to fit that theme, plus include at least two dairy items. Vivian's art include a milk bottle and a sun made out of cheese.

Once Vivian, 16, was chosen as a finalist, the life-sized dairy cow was shipped to the Foothill campus straight from the East Coast. Vivian has been working feverishly since late February to transfer her cow concept from paper onto the three-dimensional statue.

Painting a life-sized cow model is exhausting work, Vivian admitted, but "I'm really glad that I was fortunate enough that I was able to do it. It was a very rewarding experience."

Using a cow as a canvas may make some people giggle, but the prize money for these beautiful bovines is no laughing matter. The grand prize winner gets an incredible $20,000 for their school's art department, plus another $5,000 for the student and $5,000 for the teacher. In this case, that's art teacher Caroline Fields. There are lesser prizes for first place and honorable mentions.

Competition is fierce, but Vivian hopes to garner the top prize because "they give a ton of money to my school, which is really good. Even if I don't win anything, I still get $500."

Students submitted their dairy artwork last fall. The 30 finalists not only were shipped a large cow that measures 8 feet by 5 feet by 3 feet, but they were each given a $250 stipend to buy art supplies to decorate the hulking creature.

Vivian is wrapping up her udderly outstanding artwork this week. The final cow art is judged based on photos submitted by contestants. Contest winners will be announced in May.

The finished cows painted by the 30 finalists will be displayed at each student's local Safeway store. Vivian expects her cow to be displayed in the Pleasanton Safeway sometime in April.

The local Safeway store can keep the cow indefinitely or return it to the school. If Foothill regains custody of the fake bovine, students have discussed donating it for display at Meadowlark Dairy in downtown Pleasanton.

Everyone put their hooves together for a big round of applause for Vivian and her substantial art project. Let's keep our fingers crossed that she's the grand prize winner. The mock bovine could truly be a cash cow for Foothill.

Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PHOTOS: The top picture is the paper representation of Vivian's vision for her cow art. Vivian poses with her artful cow. Different angles of the cow art in progress.