Butter cow sculptor, Norma Lyon, passes away at 81
June 27, 2011 4:17 PM   Subscribe


(It's a pat of butter!)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

She's off to a butter place.
posted by gman at 4:25 PM on June 27, 2011 [10 favorites]

I have fond memories of butter Garth Brooks at Iowa State Fair 95.
posted by escabeche at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2011

You are on a roll with the butter puns
posted by growabrain at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2011

According to wikipedia, she outlived the I can't believe it's not butter cow lady by several delicious years.
posted by Auden at 4:38 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I never knew about butter sculptures until late in life, initiated during a visit to the New York State Fair in Syracuse. I guess this is a bit of folk art originating in the northern parts of the country where they could keep it cool in unrefrigerated root cellars with blocks of ice stored over the winter. Perhaps by the height of summer they had to use it or loose it, and better to make a sculpture than toss it. Or maybe it's a more recent relic from the age of refrigeration and government subsidy excesses.
posted by stbalbach at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2011

Of course she did.

Butter her, then me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:42 PM on June 27, 2011

and prithee do not think I have erroneously misspelled the word "than"
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:43 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please stop the puns. Because of you she's churning in her grave.
posted by found missing at 4:43 PM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]

Well according to Wikipedia the first 'butter cow' was in fact created at the Iowa State Fair in 1911, as a way to promote butter by a local butter making company. So sadly it's not folk art but a commercial, which I guess is par for State Fairs (see DFW "Ticket to the Fair").
posted by stbalbach at 4:50 PM on June 27, 2011

Will she be cream-ated?
posted by Melismata at 4:53 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh you just had to tease me with the possibility of a history of butter sculpting, stbalbach. Fortunately I found an article to satisfy my craving.

Butter Cows and Butter Buildings: A History of an Unconventional Sculpting Medium.
posted by mek at 4:54 PM on June 27, 2011

Oh that's a fantastic article mek, I'm into page 1 of 20 and already learned it's "an art form that had its origins as centerpiece displays for Renaissance banquets". Thanks!
posted by stbalbach at 5:00 PM on June 27, 2011

You do wonder if she was known as "Pat" for short.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:08 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

The American dairyland isn't the only area with a sculptural tradition in butter. In Tibet butter sculpture is called torma (wikipedia, documentary). And in the Polish Catholic tradition, a butter lamb (wikipedia) is an Easter centerpiece.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 5:12 PM on June 27, 2011

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:12 PM on June 27, 2011

posted by cupcake1337 at 5:41 PM on June 27, 2011

Ghee, that's sad news.
posted by mauvest at 5:42 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by Smart Dalek at 6:39 PM on June 27, 2011

To honor her life and achievements, Mrs. Lyon will be rendered, churned, frozen, carved into a cow and left out for a week on a block of ice in a tent.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:13 PM on June 27, 2011

Rest In Peace, Butter-Cow Lady.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:54 PM on June 27, 2011

Was that news report a front page spread?

RIP, nice butter lady.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

81! Who says animal fat isn't good for you?!
posted by Ideefixe at 8:23 PM on June 27, 2011

Someone needs to make a butter sculpture of the butter sculpture lady at the next Iowa State Fair.

□ □
□ .. □

/butter sculpture
posted by porpoise at 9:20 PM on June 27, 2011

When I was a little kid I saw State Fair on Insomniac Theater on KABC, while I was on vacation visiting my uncle's family. It takes place at the Iowa State Fair and it's just so damn wholesome and charming that it made me want desperately to attend that fair just once before I die.

Fast forward to the first time I read the DFW piece that stbalbach linked to above. I was like, what the hell, Rodgers and Hammerstein? There's an annual damn butter cow sculpture at this shindig and you didn't immortalize that shit in song and dance?

RIP, Butter-Cow Lady. I am mooo'ved by your passing.
posted by palomar at 9:55 PM on June 27, 2011

Norma Lyon was the creator of some of my best memories of childhood. When I was a kid, we stood in line every other year to see the butter cow. When I was a teenager in 4-H, I wasn't too cool to shuffle past the butter cow, although it was ironically (of course). As an adult living far away from Iowa, the butter cow, and the State Fair, embody a feeling of being from IA... being a bit of a square and, not only embracing that, but poking a little fun of yourself at the same time. Thanks, Norma, your Butter Elvis was funny as hell.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:14 PM on June 27, 2011

Porpoise, they did several years ago and will again this year.
posted by brujita at 11:28 PM on June 27, 2011

I have never seen a butter sculpture in my life, but looking through the pictures I kind of wish that I had. What can you call this nostalgia on someone else's behalf? The Germans probably have a word for it...
posted by Harald74 at 11:30 PM on June 27, 2011

The West Wing 3.13 - "The Two Bartlets"

CJ: So, the 4-H convention.
Toby: We're not going.
CJ: I don't get it. How can you not want to see the butter cow?
Toby: I'm that way.
CJ: You understand it's a life-size cow made entirely of butter.
Toby: We're not going.
CJ: There's also a butter Elvis and a butter Last Supper which has, I swear to God, Toby...
Toby: Butter on the table?
CJ: It's got butter on the table right there between butter James and butter Peter, an almost mind-blowing vortex of art and material that dares the viewer to recall Marcel Duchamp.
Toby: How do they keep it from melting?
CJ: How, indeed.
Nancy: Toby, you have a phone call in the staff cabin.
Toby: Thank you.
CJ: Butter, butter, butter, butter, butter, butter, butter.
posted by fight or flight at 12:30 AM on June 28, 2011

You know what this means? Paula Deen is next!!!
posted by tommasz at 5:04 AM on June 28, 2011

I let out a 'ohhhh noooo' when I read this. Growing up in Iowa, seeing that cow was an annual pilgrimage I looked forward to.

posted by Lutoslawski at 10:00 AM on June 28, 2011

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