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Oregon May Have Outdone Texas’ CowParade

Photo: Whit Deschner via Atlas Obscura

Most Texans have seen those blank canvas fiberglass cow sculptures (created by a Swiss sculpture and featured in other international cities) that artists and art classes slap paint on to create an original work of art. But last Saturday, September 16, Baker City, Oregon hosted its 11th annual Great Salt Lick Contest—art actually created by livestock, reports Atlas Obscura.

This exhibition is the ultimate combination of folk art (untrained artists) and abstract art. Years ago, Whit Deschner was drinking some beer and looking at salt blocks—lunchpail-sized cubes of salt and minerals, set out regularly for local livestock and thought, “You’d give an artist $100,000 for one of them if they blew it up.”

These works are the accidental sculptures of cows, deer, and other livestock. The 50-pound blocks of salt, which can be found at feed stores for about $6.50, are auctioned off to benefit Parkinson’s research. Deschner says he has noticed aesthetic differences between animals: “Goats and deer are more realist,” he says. “Cows are more impressionist. The horses aren’t artistic at all.”

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