No one would have guessed it is possible to fit over 35 Spanish bulls side by side into the space of one beautiful city art gallery.
Yet there they were- in black, in color, pierced, glued, sprayed, painted, flecked, pinned and filling the main room from wall to wall of Timothy Yarger Fine Art.
Some sweet, some somber, most bright and brilliant, all were hung ready to stun the crowd at the LA opening of Art Bulls for Charity, an event showcased across the country and the last pit stop before winding up in Miami after seven-city U.S. tour.
And what better place for a bit of bull, than in Beverly Hills.
Yet the only stomping and snorting was among the guests vying for position to view the most delectable item displayed at this three day exhibition of model bulls posing as wall art. After surveying the herd, it was then time to make an offer on a favorite beast and hope that some other big spender didn’t bid your spare cash away into small change.
With 100 percent of the proceeds going towards the fight against global hunger and poverty, the idea for using such a collection as auction pieces for charity has its roots in a well-known name- Osborne.
Hearing that title and living in Los Angeles, it is tempting to think pop culture, reality shows and a somewhat permanently confused British rock star. One step outside the LA bubble and the U.S., you will find that the Osborne legacy is a name synonymous with Spain and a famous family-owned fine wine and spirits business, dating back well over two centuries.
However, it was not until 1956 that the simple image of a black bull became the established brand symbol of the Osborne company. Needing a strong logo to launch their new Veterano brandy, they employed artist Manuel Prieto to create the icon and in doing so, simultaneously connected Spaniards to their heritage, culture and values though the pride, power and dignity the bull image evoked.
Installing 16 “bullboards” throughout Spanish highway system in 1957, each figure stood a minimum of 26 feet high, only to grow over time to the size of a four-story building and weighing up to 9000 pounds.
Composed of 70 pieces of sheet metal, the bulls were a majestic sight for the public and more were erected around the country over the following five years. Yet as highway laws changed in 1962, so did the regulations for roadside advertising culminating in the removal of the “bullboards” in 1988 to a huge public outcry.
Spanish citizens and associations alike spent the next ten years fighting for the bulls to be returned, managing to restore them to their rightful place presiding over the freeways, while having them declared part of Spain’s national heritage in 1997. There are now over 90 of these creatures spread across the country.
It is this very story encapsulating the strength and indomitable spirit of the Osborne bull, along with its 50th anniversary commemoration that inspired the family to join forces with Share Our Strength, an organization leading the fight against global hunger and poverty since 1984.
“With publicity for so many other worldwide concerns, hunger has faded from public view. But the battle still rages,” says Alberto de la Iglesia, Director of Osborne USA. “Partnering with the nation’s leading anti-hunger organization, we are pleased to be involved in raising awareness and much needed funds for this important cause.”
Galvanizing individuals and businesses into aiding the mission, the focus of Share the Strength today is to end childhood hunger in the U.S. while sending the message that it takes more than food to fight world hunger- it takes might, some like-minds to believe things can change and then move forth towards those goals.
Using a small flat scale model of the bull as a canvas, celebrities, artists, world-renowned chefs, fashion designers, and architects have all created their own unique interpretation of the bull. Just some of the offerings include designs by Antonio Banderas, Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw, John Secada, Angie Harmon, fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, and Master Chefs Ferran Adria and Jacques Pepin. Several local American artists from coast to coast have also contributed their talents for the collection.
And if you couldn’t make it to one of the live benefits, the good news is that you can still make one of these unique pieces your own. In conjunction with the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, all Art Bulls will be auctioned online with the inclusion of any previous bids made during the series of opening night exhibitions.
Just a click of your mouse and it’s never been easier to hit a bull’s eye, and get to walk away with the whole board. Support for the family and feeding America’s hungry children is just one target where we all need to take better aim.
For online art auction registry go www.sobeauction.cmarket.com, click on Guest Book to add your email address, receive auction lot descriptions by email and to make bids on the auction website.
For information about attending the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (February 22-25), visit www.sobewineandfoodfest.com
To learn more about Share Our Strength charity organization, go to www.strength.org
Osborne products are imported by WJ Deutsch & Sons of White Plains, NY.
They are also available through various wine sites online.