The movement to bring sculptures to public streets started in a major way in Chicago in 1999, when over 300 fiber glass cows, painted by artists, appeared on the city’s streets. If you are familiar with Chicago’s history, the city was essentially burned to the ground in 1871 when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked down a lantern in her barn, or so the story goes. Hence, Chicago has some serious history connected with bovines. The 1999 exhibit of the modern, artistic cows was a great success in Chicago and a small number of them still remain on the sides of buildings in that town.
The concept of having rotating exhibits of large sculptures on streets and malls was adopted by New York City under the auspices of the Broadway Mall Association. They are a great source of amusement especially for visitors and children, who enjoy having their photos taken in front of them. One of the most recent exhibits was of the work of Peter Woytuk, who had a collection of large metal animals in various parts of town. The very colorful sculptures of Nicki St. Phalle were also featured on the Park Avenue Mall. Here are some photos of these street exhibits of sculpture.