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FIBERGLASS PHENOMENA agriculture represented in urban art JENNIFER REGNIER

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COWS ON PARADE Chicago


Animal Art parades such as the infamous Cow Parade and Pigs on Parade have trans-

formed into a fast-growing, popularly embraced phenomena. This fiberglass phenomena has been referenced as the new international art movement to hit the urban landscape. These impressive international public art exhibitions are decorated by local artists and distributed all over the city center in the most utilized and popular public places.

These fiberglass pieces of art tend to incorporate designs specific to the specific cities history, culture and other relevant themes of that city.

They installations tend to feature on average about 300 art pieces and the installation typically lasts between 3 to 6 months. At the end of the installation, the pieces are auctioned off and proceeds are then donated to charity. The following essay will discuss the history, methods, people involved as well as the implications that these public art parades have on the city.

The trend of art parades began with Cow Parade in 1998. The original event

was founded by Walter Knapp, a former president of the International Association of Window Dressers. The first cow parade took place in Knapp’s hometown of Zurich, Switzerland in 1998. The city of Chicago and American entrepreneur Jerome Elbaum, chairman of CowParade Holdings, first brought Cow Parade to America in 1999. Since then it has emerged and grown into a massive sensation.

The method behind this phenomena seems to be straightforward: to pick an in-

teresting animal that represents the community. Businesses sponsor the costs of these exhibits and local artists are invited to design these pieces of fiberglass. By placing these pieces strategically among the city, the goal is to attract locals and visitors to interact and enjoy these items. In a way, it is a smart tactic to invite

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PIGS ON PARADE Seattle


the community to approach this art parade like a visual treasure hunt through the city. Challenging the viewer to embark on a journey and embrace as many of these pieces as possible. The goal was to have art at the core of these cities and also have these pieces of art act as a catalyst to bring these different communities together. Businesses, cities, organizations and local artists come together to start partnerships and alliances centering around art in their city.

Each city starts with a blank canvas. With each cities, the parade continues to

evolve, not only in size but also creativity. Even though the fiberglass sculptures remain the same each artist puts their own take on the cities cultural influences as well as being inspired by the cow itself as an interpretive art as well. The artists tend to be local to each city event. Artists submit applications that are reviewed by a local committee. The artists are strongly encouraged to submit proposals that have to do with the individual cities culture and events in particular. As far as sponsors go, anyone can become a sponsor. Sponsors are important in adding to the success of an event. Four levels of sponsorship are available ranging from $7,500 to $500,000. Sponsoring is a wonderful marketing tool for businesses. CowParade not only adds color and fun to each city it visits, but it also raises a good deal of funds for charity. Not only did these amazing pieces of artwork spark excitement in cities that were beginning to drop off the radar, but it also revitalized cultural tourism as well as redevelopment in some of the cities. For example, the Chicago Cow parade alone generated $500 million in economic impact.

As well as bringing communities together, another added bonus was the money these art exhibitions were raising and donating to local health, art, educational, animal, environmental, and social organizations in need.

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AGRICULTURAL MURALS Los Angeles


These projects have given cities an identity that they were lacking and therefore has turned these cities into vibrant hotspots for tourism and visitation injecting a large amount of income into these local economies.

Even more fascinating is that it has even seemed to desecrate the notion of pub-

lic art as something that must be experienced in a gallery or museum. It has given the public eye something to interact with and is conceptually very imaginative. If this is not art, what is? The community and neighborhood can identify and recognize cultural examples in this display of public art. The city also gains identity with these pieces of artwork and for many cities begin a wave of tourism causing people to venture to a specific city just in hopes of being able to find these different animal art nestled throughout the city. The agricultural industry also seems to be getting recognition of the importance of these agricultural elements not only in our individual daily lives but also in how they play a part in our public realm.

Cow parade made history as one of the most successful art and civic spirit programs

ever in the history of art events.Though in most senses this installation is quite successful, their has been some controversy over these animal art parades. People’s opinions run the gamut. Some people tend to think its all about advertising rather than

art and are acting out in a violent manner. At times, they have defaced the fiberglass pieces as well as stolen them. Fires have been set to factories that manufacture them. Others seem to be annoyed at placement of these art fixtures and question the appropriateness of some of the places chosen to display these fiberglass figures. Others enjoy the public art and find it invigorating and an attraction to their city. In short, these wonderfully temporary exhibitions leave the city with mostly positive

memories, strengthened community bonds, invigorated economies and a staple for their city as well as donating proceeds of the exhibition to a good cause. This new and fresh expression of art has united individuals in a very creative way and the element at the center of it all was art in the public realm. By sharing these animal public art installations in our catalog we hope to acknowledge the fact that agriculture is present in many forms and it is definitely seen through public art in the urban realm.

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THE BALONEY WE EAT agriculture as processed food

MYVONWYNN HOPTON

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I still like bologna on white bread now and then And the sound of a whippoorwill down a country road The grass between my toes and that sunset sinking low And a good woman’s love to hold me close Alan Jackson, from I Still Like Bologna

The Bologna sandwich, made with a piece of bologna, a slice of American cheese, and two fluffy pieces of white bread (condiments optional), is an American sandwich classic with cultural power and resonance. For many, the famous Oscar Mayer advertising jingle sung by a curling-headed boy in 1973 has forever cemented B-OL-O-G-N-A with Oscar Mayer, summer afternoons, and the simplicity of childhood.

Whether you eat bologna sandwiches regularly or left them behind in elementary school, the smell and flavor has the power to conjure very specific memories and feelings. Recently, Alan Jackson played on the emotion bologna evokes in his hit country song “I Still Like Bologna,” recalling simpler times and a rural America that is disappearing. Like the hot dog and the PB&J, the bologna sandwich is loaded with nostalgia.

But of course the bologna sandwich has this kind of resonance, because after all “you

are what you eat” and according to Ocar Mayer, American’s eat over 6 million bologna sandwiches daily. We are physically built out of the food we consume, and somewhere most of us are a little bit of bologna. However, the bologna sandwich like other convenience or fast foods is anything but simple. It is a complex food item that has been created by a huge industrial food complex, dependant more on science and technology than on the American farmer. Michael Pollan states in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma that the food we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000. He goes on to describe how the same processes used to fix nitrogen for bombs during World War II, made nitrogen available for chemical fertilizers. The same industrial processes used to massproduce war equipment were translated to increase food production and uniformity. These advances in combination with the emergent driving culture of the 1950’s, as well as changes to traditional domestic roles in the 1960’s and 70’s, created the perfect conditions for fast and convenience foods to become a major part of American life.

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While the changes in what we eat have happened rapidly, our ideas about where our

food comes from and how it is produced have been slower to catch up. The notion that farming families are working the land, framed by a red-barn, silo, and picket fence is leftover from the 1930’s, but is still used to market numerous products in supermarkets today (Kenner, 2009). In 1935, there were approximately 7 million family-run farms dotting the American countryside. By the end of the 1990’s, there were only 1.9 million left (USDA, 2002). Large private and corporate farms bought up and consolidated farmland, or farmland changed use as suburbia expanded. The consolidation of small farms into large ones was made possible by the new industrial system, where fewer workers were required to successfully run a farm. In 1890, it took one worker to farm 27.5 acres of land. A century later, it takes only one worker to farm 740 acres (US EPA, 2009). This increase in efficiency and mechanization makes it harder to earn a living wage farming, but it creates cost savings that benefit both company and consumer.

Currently less than 1% of the US population makes a living farming (US EPA, 2009). This means that the vast majority of Americans no longer have any direct connection to the land, plants and animals we eat. Without this connection, it becomes easier to eat through a day without consciously knowing what is going into our bodies. And as food is shipped hundreds of miles from source to consumer, it becomes necessary to add chemical preservatives and colors to create and maintain food’s freshness and appeal.

So what does keep bologna looking pretty and pink after it is trucked around the nation? According to its package, Oscar Mayer Bologna contains mechanically separated chicken, pork, water, corn syrup, less than 2% of salt, sodium lactate, flavor, sodium phosphates, autolyzed yeast, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrate, dextrose, extractives of paprika, potassium phosphate, sugar, and potassium chloride. This list requires a second look to truly understand what all of these things are. The USDA defines mechanically separated meat as “a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue” (USDA, 2009). Pork pieces are added to the mechanically separated chicken and comminuted, ground into minute particles to make a meat paste (USDA, 2009). As for the other ingredients, salt refers to common table salt, sodium chloride; corn syrup, dextrose, and sugar are all different forms of glucose added as sweeteners (Wiki-

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pedia, 2009); autolyzed yeast, flavor, and extractives of paprika are added for taste, although “flavor� is some proprietary additive that only Oscar Mayer knows about. Sodium lactate, sodium diacetate, potassium chloride, sodium phosphates and potassium phosphate are salts that work as preservatives, with the last two also serving as emulsifiers, which prevent separation of fat from solids (Katz, 1998). Sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrate are adding to speed curing time of the meat, and help it

maintain its pink color (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2009). Interestingly enough, looking so good comes at a price. Due to associated health risks, the Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends cutting back from consuming corn syrup, dextrose, sugar, and salt, while trying to avoid eating sodium nitrate altogether.

A growing amount of research is showing that diets that include high amounts of pro-

cessed or red meats, dairy, and low-fiber carbohydrates have been linked to various types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, which is currently the nation’s number one cause of preventable death (Adams, 2005; Brunner, 2008; Krenner, 2009; & Schulze, 2003).

This sickening of the population on processed and fast food is also being reflected in the overall health of our environment. The consolidation of farmland, the use of large petroleum-powered equipment, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, has allowed for greater efficiency and cost savings for companies and consumers, but the consolidation of agricultural wastes and fertilizer run-off in massive quantities is causing major pollution problems (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2008 & Pew Comission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, 2008). An example is the agricultural run-off from Midwestern farms that drain into the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico, which cause algal blooms so extreme that as they die and decompose, all of the oxygen in the water column below is used creating a hypoxic or dead-zone where very little marine life can exist (Turner, 2008).

When all of this is laid on the table, it makes it harder to swallow that bite of

bologna. To regain control of our health and environment, it is necessary for people to fight for the knowledge of what is in their food and how it is made. This is especially true in the urban environment, where it is easy to allow food production to stay out-of-sight and out-of-mind. It is time to move beyond singing nostalgic songs and jingles about our processed meats, and demand better.

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THE NEW HEARTLAND agriculture in the city

ADRIAN SUZUKI

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CITY FARM Chicago

The

term agriculture traditionally characterizes open fields and grazing animals, fields of grain and plowing tractors; which once characterized America’s heartland. At a time when 193,000,000 people are living in America’s urban areas, agriculture is presumed to have a distant relationship to many urban dwellers.


Amidst the humming of automobiles, air-conditioned spaces of buildings and sterilized concrete sidewalks urban dwellers seek food in the most fundamental of ways: the quickest of options.

Farmer’s

markets, organic restaurants, the green-revolution and a heavy increase in population have each helped redefine America’s heartland, and the urban dweller’s perception of the qualities and benefits of their food.

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MARKET GARDENS Seattle Exposure to alternative food products and venues has contributed to the popularity of alternative food production methods and values.


As

the representation of agricultural produce is more often represented in its natural form within the urban realm, it seems that the context by which agriculture is perceived is in the process of changing.

And as tomatoes are turned into ketchup, potatoes turned into French fries and

chicken turned into chicken fingers, urban dwellers consume such goods without acknowledgement or question of the form and processes their foods transpire.

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SOUTH CENTRAL FARM Los Angeles Farmer’s Markets, Organic Restaurants and greenawareness have each helped the American Consumer better understand the qualities and benefits of their food.

Farmer’s

markets, organic restaurants, the green-revolution and a heavy increase in population have each helped redefine America’s heartland, and the urban dweller’s perception of the qualities and benefits of their food.


Green-awareness and an interest in communal wellbeing are on an increase with Amer-

ican consumers and provides precedent for future generations to be exponentially aware and interested in what they eat, where it comes from and its benefits to the human body.

The

term agriculture traditionally characterizes open fields and grazing animals, fields of grain and plowing tractors; which once characterized America’s heartland. At a time when 193,000,000 people are living in America’s urban areas, agriculture is presumed to have a distant relationship to many urban dwellers.

The fabricated fields of the city made up of farmers markets, organic restaurants and urban farms seem to be embraced by urban dwellers, along with the ideas of where their food comes from and in what form they consume it.

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Adams, M. (2005, August 21). The real reason why processed meats are so dangerous to your health. Natural News.com. Retreived March 10, 2010, from http://www.naturalnews. com/011148_processed_meat_meats.html Brunner, E.J., et. al. (2008). Dietary patterns and 15-y risks of major coronary events, diabetes, and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, pp. 1414- 1421. ReAdams, M. (2005, August 21). The real reason why processed meats are so dangerous to your health. Natural News.com. Retreived March 10, 2010, from http://www.naturalnews. com/011148_processed_meat_meats.html Brunner, E.J., et. al. (2008). Dietary patterns and 15-y risks of major coronary events, diabetes, and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, pp. 1414- 1421. Re-

Adams, M. (2005, August 21). The real reason why processed meats are so dangerous to your health. Natural News.com. Retreived March 10, 2010, from http://www.naturalnews. com/011148_processed_meat_meats.html Brunner, E.J., et. al. (2008). Dietary patterns and 15-y risks of major coronary events, diabetes, and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, pp. 1414- 1421. Re-


Adams, M. (2005, August 21). The real reason why processed meats are so dangerous to your health. Natural News.com. Retreived March 10, 2010, from http://www.naturalnews. com/011148_processed_meat_meats.html Brunner, E.J., et. al. (2008). Dietary patterns and 15-y risks of major coronary events, diabetes, and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, pp. 1414- 1421. ReAdams, M. (2005, August 21). The real reason why processed meats are so dangerous to your health. Natural News.com. Retreived March 10, 2010, from http://www.naturalnews. com/011148_processed_meat_meats.html Brunner, E.J., et. al. (2008). Dietary patterns and 15-y risks of major coronary events, diabetes, and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, pp. 1414- 1421. Re-

Adams, M. (2005, August 21). The real reason why processed meats are so dangerous to your health. Natural News.com. Retreived March 10, 2010, from http://www.naturalnews. com/011148_processed_meat_meats.html Brunner, E.J., et. al. (2008). Dietary patterns and 15-y risks of major coronary events, diabetes, and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, pp. 1414- 1421. Re-

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Fabricated Fields  

Agriculture in the City

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