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Aw, Come On, Who Blew Up Cowileo's Head in Bucktown This Weekend?

By Alisa Hauser | July 6, 2015 9:37am
 A cow sculpture was damaged sometime between late Saturday, early Sunday in Bucktown.
Cowileo Damaged on Damen Avenue Across from Churchill Park
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BUCKTOWN —  "Cowileo," a life-sized sculpture of a standing cow peering into a telescope just steps from the Damen Avenue Bloomingdale Trail ramp, was damaged late Saturday or early Sunday in what police say could have been an explosion.

Sometime between 11 p.m. Saturday and 5 a.m. Sunday, several portions of the bovine's face, left shoulder and tail were destroyed, according to folks who discovered the debris at 5 a.m. Sunday.

"They [officers] took a guess that maybe it was an incendiary device. They do not know for sure," said Officer Veejay Zala, a Chicago Police spokesman, who confirmed an incident report was filed on Sunday evening.

Bucktown resident Mehran Farahmand's 88-year-old father went for a walk around 5 a.m. Sunday and saw the aftermath.

"My father thought at first it was a falling brick from the building behind the cow but it looks like a firecracker might have caused it, Farahmand said.

"Cowileo" suffered damage in an apparent explosion. {Photos by Alisa Hauser/DNAinfo)

Daron Cox, a cab driver, parked his regular car, a Nissan Maxima, on the southwest corner of Damen Avenue and Churchill Street, just a few feet from "Cowileo" at 10 p.m. Saturday.

When Cox returned from his overnight shift at 6 a.m. Sunday, he said,  "There was debris everywhere. It was miraculous it did not hit my car. I think they put an M-80 in there."

Cox added, "My guess it that it was intentional. Nobody can do something like that on accident. I'd like to see who did that get caught."

Alisa Hauser says owners hope the cow will be repaired:

Made of cement and stucco and inspired by the popular "Cows on Parade" public art exhibit, Bucktown's "Cowileo" was created by artist Ken Aiken, who now lives in Buffalo, New York, but was a Bucktown resident in 2001 when the piece, commissioned by his landlord Nancy Kapp, was created.

Kapp, founder of the Renaissance Companies, works out of an office around the corner from the sculpture. "Cowileo" is stationed in front of Asha Salon at 1808 N. Damen Ave.

Jeanmarie Kapp, chief operating officer for the Renaissance Companies, issued the following statement on Monday:

"We're very saddened by the destruction to Cowileo, as she is a fixture in the Bucktown neighborhood. We will contact the artist to see what can be done to bring her back to her glory."

Notified of the damages by a reporter who provided photos, Aiken replied, "Strange place to attack it....  I find it hard to believe someone would do that. Maybe it was hit by a meteor."

When asked how he feels about seeing his work damaged, Aiken said, "It's a whimsical sculpture to be enjoyed. It's not a highly refined piece of art.  The fact that it was attacked doesn't really cause any personal emotional response. I'm just hoping I get an opportunity to bring it back to a proper state."

In October 2013, Aiken gave "Cowileo" a touch up, adding bright green eyes and bright white spots to replace the cow's yellowing spots and udder which had discolored over time.

Kapp said she asked Aiken to create a "Renaissance cow" and he came up with the idea of modeling a cow after Galileo, a Renaissance-era astronomer.

"A number of people stop and photograph it; people are amazed to see a cow standing," Kapp said of Cowileo.

Cowileo's damaged tail.

Fragments from the blast, swept up next to a flower planter.

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