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Two Maine artists make their mark on the fight against cancer

Russ Cox and Eamon White have been selected to paint cow sculptures for the 2023 Cow Parade New England, which will benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

PORTLAND, Maine — At Casco Bay Artisans in Portland, the petite gallery is filled with natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows and large canvasses covered in bright, splattered paint. Maine artist Russ Cox created many of the pieces in this room, inspired by a decades-long love of Maine's ocean. That's quite apparent when examining the deep blue oils he has used to mimic water and the chartreuse streaks that represent seaweed.

"The ocean is something I’ve always been near. I grew up in the summers in Freeport," Cox said.

On Monday morning, Cox sat cross-legged on the floor, working on a new and slightly different project. His palettes still contained the same seascape-colored hues, but the surface he was applying them to was unique: a life-sized sculpture of a cow, complete with large eyes, pointy horns, and an udder.

"She is named Muriel after my mother, who passed away from cancer, so it seemed appropriate," Cox said.

Cox is one of 60 New England artists selected to paint a cow sculpture for the 2023 Cow Parade New England, which will benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. The public art event, running from the end of June through the beginning of September, is sponsored by Herb Chambers. The 75 colorful cows (to mark the Jimmy Fund's 75th anniversary) will be placed around Greater Boston at landmark sites. They'll be sold or sponsored and auctioned off, with all proceeds going to Dana-Farber to support cancer research, as well as patients and their loved ones.

"It’s a meaningful fundraiser because cancer sadly is always present," Cox said, later adding, "To have something symbolic that is a continuous reminder of the fight against cancer and working to cure it — you can’t get better than that."

Eamon White is the other Maine artist who was chosen to take part in the event and show off his talents. He's working with the Boston Red Sox to paint a cow, using the city's recognizable blue and yellow colors. White said this is probably the biggest project he has ever done.

"It’s kind of almost like a dream come true. You work so hard," White said, noting he has been painting since he was five years old and would do so with his father and grandmother. He eventually went to school as a digital design major and studio art minor. 

White said the cause of this project is important to him. 

"That’s kind of what my art has really been about the past few years is giving back to people, creating some type of change — stuff like that," White said.

The Jimmy Fund began in 1948 and is named after a man from New Sweden, Maine. Since then, it has raised more than $1.5 billion for Dana-Farber through community-led events and programs. Vice president of the Jimmy Fund Suzanne Fountain said many of the artists involved in the Cow Parade have been touched by cancer in some way.

"Cancer touches everyone. There really are no boundaries for cancer and why it touches people and how it touches people," Fountain said.

You can learn more about the 2023 cows and their artists here

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