Holy cows
Four cow statues added to Suwanee playground

If you haven't already heard, a group of cows has moooved into PlayTown Suwanee. To be more specific, four fiberglass cow statues, painted by area artists, have been installed.

The animals are the latest addition to the Suwanee playground, which was built last summer by volunteers.

"It brings attention to the playground even more," said Anita Stewart, a Suwanee artist who painted one of the cows.

Each cow has a unique appearance. "It's like a different kind of canvas. Different artists treat it different ways," Stewart said.

In 2006, she created Blue Bell the bovine, while her friend and fellow Suwanee artist LaTrecia Raffety designed a cow named Dottie. Both animals, which are covered in handprints, helped raise money for Suwanee's sister city Long Beach, Miss., which was affected by Hurricane Katrina. Today, Blue Bell and Dottie are part of the Suwanee playground herd.

Last summer, Suwanee residents helped paint Blue Bell, whose handprints are shaped like butterflies, and Dottie, who also has polka dots.

"Kids loved it. We had all ages that came in," Raffety said.

Cows appear to have a universal appeal. "They just seem to be friendly creatures," Raffety said. "They've been popular the last several years."

Another of the Suwanee cows is Chattamoochee. This statue was designed by Shannon Brickey to reflect the Chattahoochee River, and was purchased by the city of Suwanee in 2003 after being part of Atlanta's Cow Parade, an event that included hundreds of cows in locations throughout the city. Before Chattamoochee took up permanent residence at the playground, it stood in the lobby of the Suwanee City Hall.

The fourth member of the mini-herd is Matilda. This statue depicts scenes that represent the diversity of Atlanta. Monika Ruiz created this cow, which was donated to Suwanee.

Though each of the four cows is one-of-a-kind, Suwanee is not the only city in the country that has hosted artistic animals. This summer, Pigs on Parade is taking place in Seattle. In 2005, Louisville, Ky., hosted Gallopalooza, which featured 223 life-size fiberglass horses. While those public exhibitions were short-lived, the cow statues will stay in the Suwanee park for good.

These animals have a high fun factor, but they also have a more serious purpose - to make art more accessible.

"I have a big interest in public art because of this," Stewart said.

SideBar: If You Go

What: Cow statues

Where: PlayTown Suwanee, 425 Main St., Suwanee

Cost: Free

Call: 770-945-8996 or visit www.suwanee.com.