By Justin Reedy
When Dustin Tietrick saw three cows in the middle of Southlake Mall in Morrow, all he could do was shake his head.
"They're different," said the Jonesboro resident, as he stared in wonder at the trio of faux bovines made of fiberglass on display in the mall's courtyard.
The three cows on display at Southlake are part of CowParade Atlanta 2003, a public arts exhibition and charity fund raiser. The event, which is held in a different city around the world every year, allows both amateur and professional artists to paint or decorate the cows. The sculptures are then put on public display before being auctioned off to benefit charitable organizations.
Though the sculptures will eventually fetch thousands of dollars on auction, Tietrick didn't understand exactly why.
"Who would buy one of these?" he asked. "I just can't see putting a giant cow in my house."
On the whole, though, the cows have been better received by other Southlake Mall shoppers, according to mall spokeswoman Dionne Key.
"We're getting a real good response from people," Key said. "They all stop and look at them, and some people touch them."
Riverdale resident Ty Lum made a special stop in front of the cow dubbed "Atlanta Skyline" so her 2-year-old daughter could look at it.
"I think they're nice," Lum said. "I've seen some downtown as well, but this one is my favorite. My daughter really likes them. She wanted to come see them."
Macon resident Lisa Robinson, who was at Southlake recently on a shopping trip, was also a fan of the "Atlanta Skyline" cow. That sculpture was painted by 16-year-old Ashley Mack of Marietta.
"I like it," Robinson said. "They're very pretty. I like the one with the stars the best."
The "Atlanta Skyline" cow, as well as its neighbors "Cudzu" and "Lemoonade," will be on display at Southlake Mall through July 28. The 150 cows that make up CowParade Atlanta will be displayed around metro Atlanta through Sept. 26.
One of the cows was painted by Forest Park resident Cathy Brown, an amateur artist who specializes in landscapes. Her cow "Bluecowlic" n whose name is a play on the word bucolic n is painted blue and is covered in various landscapes from around Georgia and the rest of the country.
CowParade Atlanta is meant to promote the arts in the metro area, and proceeds from the event will benefit the American Cancer Society and TechBridge, an organization that provides technology to non-profit groups in Georgia.
The Atlanta event is the latest in a string of CowParade fund-raisers held throughout the world since the group started in 1998. More than $8 million has been raised for charitable organizations and more than $1.5 million has been paid to local artists since CowParade's inception. For more information, call the organization's hotline at (404) 898-2915 or visit its Web site at www.cowparadeatlanta.com.