‘Moovement’ Against Alzheimer’s comes to Norland
By Sue Tiffin
Craig and Carolyn Traynor gather with friends and patrons in their Norland gift shop, A Zebra of a Different Stripe, talking about the ceramic cow figurines colourfully collected on a display in front of them.
“I have 16, by the way,” said one friend.
The responses pipe up from the crowd.
“I have two.” “I have six.”
“I have nine. For other people. One spoke to me, and then they spoke to me for everyone else that got one. You look and go, I know who that cow’s for!”
There are sounds of agreement around the room.
“This is like a guilty pleasure for everyone,” laughs Craig. “Hi, my name’s Craig, I have five cows.”
The display is a miniature version of a CowParade, a public art event showcasing up to 150 creatively designed and decorated life-sized cows made of fibreglass that has its origins in Zurich in 1998 and Chicago in 1999 and has since been exhibited in 79 cities worldwide. More than 5,000 cows have been designed by more than 10,000 artists including Edwina Sandys, Kate Spade, and Christian Lacroix and purchased by celebrities including Ringo Starr, Elton John and Oprah Winfrey, raising more than $30 million for worldwide charitable organizations.
“They chose the cow because it’s universal, every country loves them, people love cows,” said Craig. “And the shape of them, they’re kind of rectangular so it lends itself to a landscape for artwork.”
A CowParade is on display throughout a town or city for about two to four months, at which point the life-size works are auctioned off and replicas are made from some of the works on display.
Some of those replicas, there are about 500 of them, are what are on display in A Zebra of a Different Stripe. The idea came to the Traynors after they moved to Norland to be closer to Craig’s dad, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Unpacking their belongings, Carolyn found a cow she had been gifted from a friend.
“I opened up this box, and there it was, the cow, and I was like, oh my gosh, I wonder if we could get it here,” she said. “It’s really a cool thing.”
“We just thought it was really neat, so we researched, found out more about it, and we found out they weren’t here,” said Craig.
The Traynors now believe they are the first to bring CowParade to Canada. They said they can imagine bringing a life-sized cow and a CowParade exhibition to the Highlands – Craig even has ideas of designing a Gord “Cow”nie cow, or perhaps a Gordie “Cow”e - but it’s an expensive endeavour.
“They usually pick artistic environments to do this, so we were really trying to promote Haliburton, but it takes some funding to get there, for the cow parade,” he said. “I don’t know who else is selling them, they’re typically at art galleries, like the art museum in New York and select galleries, they’re not in little mom-and-pop galleries.”
But here they are in the Traynors’ eclectic and cozy gift shop in Norland, which opened last year on the May long weekend. They said customers have found that their purchased cows have gone up in price – some are available on eBay for hundreds of dollars.
“I’ve walked in so many times and said, ‘OK, I want that one and I want that one and I want that one,’” said Jerri Frappier. “I have a lot of people in my family or my friends who have all had Alzheimer’s. I donate to the cause.”
The Traynors donate 10 per cent of all CowParade purchases to the Alzheimer Society of Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland and Haliburton, and on July 25 they gathered with members of the community to present a cheque of $2,529 to client support co-ordinators representing the agency. The funds come from the Traynors’ donation after selling almost 150 cows, and also from additional donations that customers have added in support of the local Alzheimer Society. Already more than 12 have been sold toward the next cheque.
Nancy Dollin purchased five that evening, each chosen carefully for their designs or theme to suit family members’ personalities or interests.
“The community’s been unbelievable, not just buying the cows and supporting the cause, but even by looking after Dad while I was gone,” said Craig.
“I think it’s a really good cause, and they’re fun, and they’re happy,” said Carolyn.
The donation to the local Alzheimer Society will help fund programs that are provided free of cost to clients, including support groups, individual support education, and Minds in Motion, a social recreational program for people living with dementia and their caregivers.
“This money will directly support people within the Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County as well, so this is going to impact maybe people you know,” said Allison Walsh, client support co-ordinator for the Alzheimer Society as Craig presented the cheque.
“Maybe even yourselves,” added Susan Fisher, client support co-ordinator.
A Zebra of a Different Stripe is located at 8021 Hwy 35, Unit 2, in Norland. For more information about the CowParade initiative, visitcowparade.com. For more information about the Alzheimer Society of Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland and Haliburton, visit alzheimer.ca/en/pklnh.