Eat Me, Drink Me; Cambridge’s Dinky Doors

I’ve finally started my own YouTube channel and my first video is up. Follow the link to the Ramblings of a Distracted Mind YouTube channel and see the video essay version of this post. I hope you like it and if you do give it a like, hit the subscribe button so I know you’re interested in seeing more content from me. And don’t worry, I’ve planned reviews and other content and they are in the works. Hope to see you there!

Cambridge has a particularly unique public art project called Dinky Doors. Join me on a quick tour of these tiny passageways to adventure, and follow the links to learn more about the lives of the cows and the denizens of the doors.

Back in 1999, there was a public art program called Cows on Parade. The program provided local artists with a life-size fiberglass cow and allowed them to create whatever they wanted on or with the animal effigy. My hometown of Chicago participated, and it was a huge hit. Some of the cows from 1999 are still on display. It was so popular they brought a new set of cows in for the twentieth anniversary in 2019.

The idea spread beyond the original project in Chicago and cities around the world participated. Over the years parades of cows have sprung up from New York and Paris to Tokyo, Lima Peru and even Margaret River Australia. According to the Cows on Parade website, over 250 million people have seen the 5,000 odd cows created for the project. These cows – all sold at an auction at the end of the parade – have raised over $30 million for charitable organizations.

People and cities have produced a varied and infinitely entertaining collection of public art projects since the first cave dwellers raised their hands and sprayed a wall with burnt ochre and rust. Since those beginnings in Lascaux, France, and the Kimberley Kangaroo in Australia, people have expanded their attempts to capture reality, invoke emotion and influence each other.

The government has traditionally subsidised public art in the form of taxes on the populace; or private patrons provided individual donations. Both paths to providing public art have their peaks and pitfalls. They have provided us the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and Chicago Picasso statue in Daley Plaza. Unfortunately, they have also forced the adornment and aggrandizement of the likes of Joseph Stalin and Robert E. Lee. Individuals that betrayed humanity and their oaths to their fellow person.

There is also the third way. Individual artists freely provide art to the masses. Either like Banksy simply displaying their creation for all to see without an open request for support or with a simple request for a donation. Not only are the Dinky Doors themselves each unique, so is the fact that the project appears to be self-financed. The artists do not appear to receive public funding but provide the doors as a passion project which subsists on private donations.

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