Good moos: Safeway contest inspires North Tahoe High senior to winning design |

Good moos: Safeway contest inspires North Tahoe High senior to winning design

Amy Edgett
Sierra Sun

Amy Edgett/Sierra SunTani Pettit's award-winning cow is now stabled at its permanent home, North Tahoe High School. Find the Cow Story photo gallery under's staff photos and videos.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; You know that life-size colorful and psychedelic-themed cow you’ve seen at Safeway? Her name is Moo Marley Harmony Milkdud. She weighs 125 pounds and is made of fiberglass.

And she’s worth a cool 10 grand.

and#8220;I think most of you know about our cow,and#8221; announced Mrs. Peggy Heidelberger-Smith, wearing a black and white cow motif apron, to thunderous applause at a May 7 North Tahoe High assembly.

The assembly honored senior Tani Pettit and art teacher and#8220;Mrs. H,and#8221; who teamed up to create the cow, which earned a first-place award in the annual Art of Dairy contest sponsored by Safeway and Lucerne. Nationwide, about 10,000 aspiring high school artists submitted drawings and essays to compete in and#8220;A Taste of Moo-sic,and#8221; with 30 finalists selected.

and#8220;From an early age, Tani always shocked us and#8212; the scale of her talent, that she doesn’t struggle, just blows me away,and#8221; said Leslie Pettit, Tani’s mother.

The prize netted $2,500 from Safeway for Tani. Mrs. H also received $2,500 and the North Tahoe High art department got $5,000.

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From canvas to masterpiece

Moo Marley Harmony Milkdud, so named by North Tahoe students, was the 19th cow to come off the Lucerne moo-ving van on March 9, delivered to the high school’s art department in Tahoe City.

Tani faced a large, white cow-shaped canvas. The young artist began painting her design with acrylics: Her interpretation of dairy and music combined, flavored by Pink Floyd’s and#8220;Dark Side of the Moon.and#8221;

and#8220;I think all artists see things differently,and#8221; said Tani. Most comfortable with pen and ink and pencil, her vision began with bright acrylic paint, a medium with which she was unfamiliar. She painted, she covered, she repainted. At times, Tani said she shouted at the cow in angry frustration. She used pen and ink in excruciating, exquisite detail, with Mrs. H by her side the entire trip.

Spring vacation was spent in the art room sanding and painting, totaling 400 hours of creation, culminating in a finished Moo Marley Harmony Milkdud, tattooed with Tani’s playful, cavorting cheese wheels, milk bottles and a purple guitar with strings of wire lending depth to the psychedelic pop art.

Tani comes from an artistic family. Tani’s father Jim Pettit said Tani and#8220;could draw before she could talk,and#8221; and he once considered art as a path. Her uncle Mark and#8220;Crashand#8221; McCreery is a Pasadena College of the Arts graduate, who designed dinosaurs in and#8220;Jurassic Park,and#8221; ghosts in and#8220;Pirates of the Caribbeanand#8221; and now works independently. Now, with the $2,5000 prize, Tani’s dream of attending her uncle’s alma mater just got closer.

Holy cow

Tahoe City Safeway manager Mike Patton spoke at the North Tahoe gala last Friday.

and#8220;Safeway believes in education and community support and#8212; I found out (the previous) Monday about the award,and#8221; he said.

It was hard to keep the secret, Patton said, as customers continuously inquired about and#8220;The Cowand#8221; on display at his store. Soon, Mrs. H became known as and#8220;The Cow Lady,and#8221; who said Safeway and Patton should be lauded for the contest that financially supports and showcases Tani’s eye and aspiring youth artists.

and#8220;Every child, every individual faces roadblocks and#8230; it is important to support each other, remind kids to stay after their dreams, to feed them all the positive you can and open avenues of success,and#8221; said Jim Pettit. He thanked Safeway and Mrs. H as one of the schools top teachers who puts heart and soul into her work: the students.

and#8220;I walk these halls and students look me in the eye and say and#8216;Hi,’and#8221; said TTUSD Superintendent Steve Jennings, who congratulated Tani and Mrs. H on behalf of the school district and the board of directors. and#8220;The academics, athletics and music productions are bar none, and one of our students is nationally recognized.and#8221;

Tani has taken photography and art classes at North Tahoe High, as well as Drawing I and Figure Drawing with Pam McAdoo at Sierra College in Truckee. Tani dug deep into her creative self, performed with panache and determination to meet a tough deadline, her father said.

As for Tani, she summed up the May 7 assembly with a fitting message to the student body: and#8220;Just get it done. Whatever and#8216;it’ turns out to be, just try, no matter how painful the process might seem.and#8221;

See the Cow Story photo gallery under Sierra Sun’s photos and videos.