DSC_0034-oxBy Michele Angermiller  The Times, Trenton
on March 21, 2014

A “stampede” of fiberglass oxen has been herded into an undisclosed warehouse in Hopewell Township, ready to begin grazing around the area in an effort to draw attention to the arts.

Area artists will transform 55 life-size fiberglass oxen into artistic masterpieces for the Hopewell Valley Stampede art-awareness project. The oxen, which are 8 feet long from tip to tail and weigh 100 pounds, will be decorated by artists and later auctioned off in a fundraiser to benefit the newly formed Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

In April, Capital Health’s Roma Bank Art and Healing Gallery will host a show displaying the oxen designs.

“What we are trying to do is nurture the arts in our local community,” said Carol Lipson, a member of the arts council. “There has always been an emphasis on sports in Hopewell Township, and given how many artists and musicians live in area, we feel it is time to put an emphasis into the arts.”

She added that the “vision” is to build a physical space for the arts council, so artists can have a home to share their creations.

The proceeds of the sales also will fund future projects and events to increase awareness and appreciation of the arts in Hopewell Valley, including the visual, culinary, literary and performing arts. Music festivals centered around the theme will be featured throughout the year, she said.

“There is an opportunity for art in everything we do,” Lipson said.

Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Capital Health, Morehouse Engineering, Betty Wold Johnson, and an “anonymous” donor were joined by 20 additional sponsors who helped fund the project initially, she said.

The arts council worked with Philadelphia-based The Theme Factory to flesh out the original design, created by retired art teacher Linda Bradshaw.

The ox was chosen, Lipson said, as a symbol “to celebrate the farm heritage of the area.”

“Stampede is our first endeavor,” she said of the yearlong celebration, during which the decorated oxen will be displayed throughout the area, including Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. The pieces will be auctioned in January.

The Hopewell Valley Stampede was inspired by an exhibit introduced in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1998, more than 800 decorated cows were placed throughout Zurich’s landscape, drawing worldwide attention and attracting thousands of local and foreign visitors.