Colorfully decorated oxen statues positioned for Hopewell Valley Arts Council Stampede


Janet Purcell/For The Times of Trenton By Janet Purcell/For The Times of Trenton
on August 22, 2014 at 6:56 AM, updated August 22, 2014 at 1:22 PM


Two of the colorfully decorated oxen statues that are part of the Hopewell Valley Arts Council Stampede are, at left, Art Sparks’ “Spinning into the Vortex,” now positioned at the corner of East Broad and Maple Streets in Hopewell Borough, and Isabelle Garbani’s “Recycle ME, (Maine),” now at 301 Main St. in Pennington.
Mike Schwartz

A stampede is in full force throughout the Hopewell Valley!
Hand-painted and embellished statues of oxen have arrived along roadways, in parks and neighborhoods and standing proudly at businesses all over Hopewell Township and Borough and Pennington.
The Hopewell Valley Arts Council Stampede put out a call in November for artists to submit design proposals to transform blank white fiberglass oxen into works of art. The designs were exhibited at the Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell in April, and soon after, 68 “naked” oxen were seen coming up I-95 in trucks from the fabricator in Philadelphia.
Now with Hopewell Valley in full agricultural bloom, the public display has begun. An illustrated map showing the location of each ox will be available Sept. 1 online at and at locations throughout the community. The maps will show bicycle routes and even a “Cattle Drive” route if you prefer to seek out the oxen in your car.
There will be scavenger hunts designed for adults and children, and there’s a “Where’s Olly?” contest in which, if you visit all 68 oxen, your name will go into a drawing for a prize. Make note of those you like best, then, when you’ve seen them all, go online and vote for your favorite for the People’s Choice Award.
But prepare yourself for the fact that it’s going to be really difficult to narrow your choice down to one. Not only is the wide variety of designs mind-boggling, but so is the range of materials used to execute the artists’ concepts. You’ll find those that are bejeweled, fabric draped, some bearing mirrors or shards of glass, animal hair, and all kinds of decorative trims.
Barbara Delafield’s “Oxtops” wears an American flag and other designs created from bottle caps. Isabelle Garbani’s “Recycle ME, (Maine)” has colorful crochet designs all over it that were made from the plastic bags home-delivered newspapers come in. Terri and George Olexa’s “Billy Jazzy Ox” is tethered to a saxophone mounted on a cement pillar.
Among those whose artists lean more to a serious bent, you’ll find Andrew Wilkinson’s deep red “Paradox” where, in gold cursive, he inscribed meaningful quotations such as Robert Frost’s “Men work together whether they work together or apart.”
Several artists chose to honor the region’s history in their designs. “Lenni Lenape, Our Native Residents” by Morris E. Dockter portrays, on one side, women staring out at the viewer and, on the other side, men comparing their weapons while seated women are working.
Washington’s crossing of the Delaware is remembered by “George’s Senior Officers,” a design created by Artist Choice, a group of Hopewell Valley senior artists. This ox wears a flag on his rump, stars on his hoofs and the crossing scene painted on his side.
“Postcard,” by Kit Greener and Kyle Wille, offers a greeting from Hopewell Valley surrounded by vignettes of local historic sites, as well as a link to a website and a QR code you can click on with your smartphone to get more information about each site.
There are those that simply bear beautiful patterning, such as artist Dana Weekley’s “Think Inside the Ox” and “Dancing With Oxen” by Janis Blayne-Paul, Priscilla Snow-Algava, Jean Babbino and Kathleen Liao. Their design shows stylized figures dancing amid swirls and mirrors that are an integral part of the design so observers can see themselves as part of a community.
Husband and wife Connie Bracci-McIndoe and Ken McIndoe each embellished an ox. Hers is a collaged abstract design of vivid colors on the ox’s black hide, and his is a painted depiction of the valley’s four seasons.
Many other artists also looked to nature for their designs. Cécile Vidican’s “Ox Nouveau” depicts the berries, flowers and insects of the region. Nancy Stark’s “Agricolox,” with birds and butterflies flitting amid plump tomatoes, ripening corn, other vegetables and blooming flowers, pays homage to the history of the region’s farming that continues to today. “Daisy” by Joel Cermele offers a pleasing view of a field of daisies and a bee resting on one daisy blooming on the ox’s snout.
While many artists looked to the region’s rich history, others, such as Diane Lufrano, chose to bring our attention to the present. Her design, “Pennington Means Business,” covers the ox with her paintings of Main Street shops and other mainstays of the town.
Looking to the future, teachers and students of Hopewell Elementary School created “Tyson,” which bears thumbprints and initials of students on one side and those of teachers on the other.
The difficulty of presenting an overview such as this is there is only space to mention a few of these works of art, and there are 68 that are equally imaginative, well done and exciting to see.
Three prominent artists from further afield will confer awards, and on Jan. 24, 2015, 10 special oxen will be auctioned at the “Ox’tion Gala” at Grounds For Sculpture.
In the meantime, we can enjoy those we happen to come upon now and, come Sept. 1, we can pick up our maps and go out and see them all. Although many sponsors chose to own and keep their oxen, the remaining ones will be sold through an online silent auction beginning Sept. 19 and running through the end of the public exhibit on Oct. 19 at 3 p.m.
Hopewell Valley Stampede
When: Sept. 1 through Oct. 19.
Where: Various places throughout Hopewell Valley
Contact: Betsy Ackerman at (609) 240-3436, or
© 2014 All rights reserved.

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